Andrew Weil

Breathing and meditation exercises you can do anywhere (Arizona Republic)

Susan Felt, Arizona Republic: Here are simple techniques to help boost your energy:

BREATHING
Even if you don’t have 90 minutes to take a yoga class, you can pause for a minute or two, relieve stress and boost your energy level simply by breathing. Victoria Maizes, executive director of the Program for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s Health Services Center, says breathing is the best thing for quick stress reduction because it’s portable, free, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.

Here is a breathing exercise that the center’s founder, Andrew Weil, calls 4-7-8. (It’s also on his Web site, www.drweil.com). Sit with your back straight as you learn the exercise. Later, you can do in any position. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there throughout the exercise. You will exhale through your mouth around your tongue. Try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward. Try this at least twice a day.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight to complete one breath.
  • Inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. It doesn’t matter how long each phase takes, the ratio of 4:7:8 is what’s important.

Over time, you will be able to inhale and exhale more slowly and deeply. This exercise naturally relaxes the nervous system.

MEDITATION

Here’s a three-minute mini-meditation that psychiatrist Judith Orloff recommends in her book Positive Energy.

  • Find a quiet place, such as a comfortable living room chair, an outdoor patio or a warm bath that’s away from people, phones and buzzers. Relax your body. Slowly inhale. Then exhale. • Focus on your breathing.
  • Rest your palm over your heart and concentrate on a person, place, song or memory you cherish.
  • Visualize any thoughts as clouds drifting in the sky. Detach from your thoughts, letting them float by as they pass in and out of your awareness. Keep returning to your breathing to focus you.
  • Observe the sensations in the area of your heart. You may feel heat, cool, expansion, bliss or pressure releasing. Do this for only three minutes.

Keep practicing. This exercise can build energy when you’re feeling tired, out of sorts or need to increase your well being, Orloff says.

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