Taking a Breath to Reduce Stress
Why is our breath important? It is an inner resource that we barely or never think about. It connects us to our bodies. For example, when we become anxious, our breath becomes shorter. Without knowing it, we hold our breath when we start moving down to the middle of the ladder or the sympathetic system within our autonomic nervous system. We lose the vision of how we see the world and where we are within the world in the moment. I wrote an article discussing this titled Up and Down the Ladder. Please let me know if you want a copy of this article.
It is possible to reconnect to your body when you are anxious, depressed or stressed if you do breathwork. There are exercises you can do to help you stay connected to your breath. It is best to do your breathwork every day to build up a shelf-life or storage of calmness in the body that you can use when you are overtaxed at work and home. Keeping your breath flowing freely will help you to be able to calm down, keep yourself in the here and now, and work through stressful situations.
Tai Chi is an excellent way to help you to connect to your breath. It is a very slow, flowing, moving meditation that enables you to focus on your mind and body. You can add breathwork in between the movements. Tai Chi can be learned and practiced by sitting, standing, and moving. You move your arms, hands, and body as you reduce tension and lower stress.
Instructions for Tai Chi form Open and Close the Door
You can do this exercise either standing or sitting. Take a deep breath in slowly. When you breathe in your lower abdomen goes out. Hold the breath for the count of 4. Breath out slowly. When your breath out, your lower abdomen goes in.
Relax your shoulders,
Relax your chest and arms,
Relax your stomach, hips and thighs, legs, ankles, and feet.
Raise your arms up slowly out in front of you with your palms facing down to the height of your shoulders. Keep your body relaxed. Breath in and out as you were taught earlier and keep your body relaxed.
Bring your elbows slowly into your chest.
Lower your arms to your sides leading with the heels of your hands.
Take a breath and relax.
Raise your arms slowly. As you raise your arms you are bring up all of the positive things you want to bring into your world today. Your intention for the day is to focus on the positive things you want in your life today. You raise up happiness, joy, kindness, self-love and safety.
Now, it is time to lower your arms. As you lower your arms, you release all of the negative things in your life right now.
Release your stress, negative thoughts, trauma, anxiety, sadness, and regrets. Imagine all of the negative things in your life floating away as you lower your hands. Take a deep breath. With every breath in imagine taking in all the good things that you want to happen for you today. With every breath out, imagine releasing all of the negative things that have happened to you on this day.
Let this exercise allow you to be comfortable with who you are and to have confidence that you will have a good day today.
How can you use this article to reduce stress?
How can you add this Tai Chi form to your daily self-care routine?