Just Breathe…for Beauty – by Jolene Hart

I don’t know about you, but when I have a crazy busy week like this one, the most immediate way my body responds is to lose its natural, full breaths. Quicken the pace, and I’ll step to it, but I’ll also forget to take a slow breath for hours on end. This might seem like a trivial thing (after all, I’m not hyperventilating or anything), but you’d be surprised at how profound the connection is between breathing and beauty.

When you fail to take full, relaxing breaths, your body’s stress levels rise, making you breathe even shallower, causing you more stress...it’s an ugly cycle. And I mean that quite literally. Chronic stress takes a major toll on your looks.

Here’s the connection, and a few ways for you to breathe for beauty…

Breathing in short breaths doesn’t allow our body to fully detox as we exhale.

Short breaths boost your stress level, which leads to inflammation and advanced signs of aging when it’s a regular happening. Setting aside time to focus on deep breaths is a method of self-care and self-love, which really can make you feel more beautiful.

Deep breathing releases feel-good endorphins in the body that give you a gorgeous glow. Couldn’t we all use a mood boost when we’re under stress?

Deep breathing also gives you more energy and focus— more oxygen!

When you breathe deep, try to breathe into your diaphragm (the lower part of your torso) instead of your ribs to get a fuller breath.

Here is one of my favorite breathing exercises, the Relaxing Breath, from Dr. Andrew Weil. I have to remind myself about it all the time, but it absolutely works wonders!

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • 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.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

*written by Jolene Hart May 17, 2012