The intoxicatingly fresh ocean breeze just makes you want to take a deep breath. But did you know that you could improve your blood pressure, energy levels, heart function and even mood while simply breathing? In order to reap benefits from your breathing routine, consider trying a few simple yogic exercises next time you hit the beach.
Create a little mountain of sand and sit on it. Cross your legs, yoga style. Make sure that your spine is in a comfortable position. If it isn’t, you need more sand under your butt, because cushioning elevates the seat, dropping the knees lower than the hips, which, in turn allows the spine to extend. Make sure that your chin is parallel to the floor. Simply sitting in this position can make your back muscles stronger. Close your eyes and surrender to the eternal peace.
Now inhale and exhale deeply through the nose a few times. Allow the breath to flow calmly and easily through your body, feeling a blissful state of union with your surroundings. Hear the waves of the ocean. Feel the gentle breeze on your skin. Melt and dissolve into the natural rhythm of your breathing, trusting that your body is a unique expression of the divine wisdom.
Now begin to measure and count your breaths. Inhale on the count of eight and exhale on the count of eight. Try not to rush the count, counting like a metronome. After a few rounds of counting, you can try breath retention for eight counts in between the inhalation and the exhalation. In addition to producing a feeling of elation, retaining the breath is helpful for agility, strength and flexibility of the body. It also quiets the mind and the sense organs, therefore enabling you to control your hunger and thirst. How’s that for a weight loss regimen?
Do not retain the breath if you are pregnant, suffering from a heart condition, have any acute or chronic diseases, if you have your monthly period, had a recent surgery, have had an injury or inflammation of the abdominal organs. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor or your health care provider about anything new you want to do with your body. Otherwise, have fun with it!
After about five rounds of inhalation, retention and exhalation through the nose, stop and feel your body. See if your mind is calmer and if you feel happier and more peaceful. See if your body is more relaxed.
Most of us breathe incorrectly, using only half of our lung capacity. Yogic breathing techniques change our breathing process. They release tensions and develop a more relaxed state of mind, which works wonderfully with the peace and serenity of being on Fire Island. Yogic breathing, called pranayama, also balances the nervous system and encourages creative thinking. Finally, it increases the amount of oxygen to our brain, thus improving alertness, mental clarity, and overall physical well-being.
Let’s try another exercise: Fold the index and middle fingers of your right hand into the palm, leaving the thumb, ring finger, and pinky sticking up. Keep your left palm on your left thigh, with your thumb and your index finger joined. Bring the thumb of your right hand to the right side of your nose and the ring finger to the left side. Close off the right nostril with the thumb. Inhale through the left nostril on the count of four. Close off the left nostril with the ring finger. Open and exhale through the right nostril on the count of four. Inhale through the right nostril on the count of four. Close off the right nostril with the thumb. Open and exhale through the left nostril on the count of four. Inhale through the left nostril on the count of four. Continue alternating for about five times.
Finally, lower your right hand down to our left thigh. Breathe deeply through both nostrils. Alternate nasal breathing should never be forced or practiced if you have a cold. This exercise engages both hemispheres of the brain, allowing you to think both creatively and logically. It is one of the best techniques to calm and balance the mind.
Now that you are all balanced and relaxed, it’s time to go play in the sand! Have fun!
Article By: ABC-of-Yoga.com