Breath Work: A Simple Pleasure, A Simple Practice

by Tracey Rich

(Requested by Shape Magazine)

Breathwork extends far beyond the simple pause it takes to execute it. As a practice in and of itself, it cleanses and tones the lungs and increases their capacity. Breathwork oxygenates the bloodstream bringing energy, healing and vitality to all the cells. Breathing allows one to focus, increasing concentration. The practice of breathing is the pause that refreshes; but it simply does not stop there. What many people don’t realize is that it is both an inner and outer game. Breathwork , as well as the attention given to the seated posture that supports it (whether cross legged on the floor or in your office chair), brings the added dimension of strengthening and toning your back muscles, increasing flexibility to your hips, and the toning of your abdominal muscles, waist, and upper chest.

Sit comfortably straight, either cross legged on the floor or in a chair with your spine aligned (head, shoulders, and hips stacked). Keep your arms extended and active with your hands resting at your knees, thumb and index finger making contact. Take a slow 5 to 10 count inhalation through your nose as though sipping the air in an unbroken, steady stream. Pause with chest lifted, chin slightly downward and shoulders relaxed. Exhale for an equal or longer count than you inhaled but keep your chest lifted. Repeat this tension relieving practice for 5 to 10 rounds, increasing your count and the pause as it feels comfortable. While breathwork can be done as a meditation, it can also be a caffeine free pick-me-up at your office desk; all the while bringing a chic physique.