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Finding Ease with Three Deep Breaths
A simple way take hold of your mind with your breath
Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again. - Thich Nhat Hahn
I start almost every yoga class I teach with three deep breaths. I find it allows the students (and me) to arrive physically and mentally and it prepares us for our time together. Lately I’ve been noticing the power of taking three deep breaths at anytime, anywhere during my day.
Let’s try it out.
Take a deep inhale through your nose, fill up your lungs, ribcage, and belly. When you’re ready, take a slow breath out through your nose or mouth. Repeat a couple more times, and allow each subsequent breath to feel a little deeper.
Notice how you feel in your body. Notice how you feel in your mind. Notice if things feel a little more connected.
Consider all the points of contact you make throughout your day, such as the conversations you engage in (even with yourself) and the information you take in through social media and the news. All of that stuff begins to accumulate and we end up collecting and carrying it with us.
This is where the power of three deep breaths comes in. At any point, you can take a moment when things feel challenging or when you find yourself transitioning from one task to another.
There’s also research to backup the energetic benefits of breathing deep. A 2017 article from Frontiers of Psychology1 found that after an 8-week randomized controlled study, participants who engaged in a diaphragmatic breathing training experienced:
Significant decrease in negative emotions
Significant increase in sustained attention
Significant decrease in cortisol levels
For me, the hardest part of taking three deep breaths is actually remembering to do it once I’m already feeling scattered. Here are some ways you can try incorporating deep breaths in to your day:
Set your alarm for a few random times where you can commit to taking a pause to breathe.
Use an app that will give you gentle (not obnoxious) notifications and guide you through some breathing exercises. (If you’ve got an app recommendations, leave it in the comments!)
Combine it with something you do on a regular basis, like grabbing a cup of coffee, signing off of a Zoom meeting, or stopping at a red light.
There’s a lot more to dive into when it comes to our breath, so stay tuned to for more research and more techniques.
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Ma, Xiao, et. al. (2017) The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in Psychology. 8:874.