How to improve attention by breathing consciously?

New photo by alice ayel / Google Photos

Conscious breathing exercises are a big part of yoga and I must admit that at first they were not my favorite part. I started doing yoga because I wanted to get back in shape after giving birth to my third child and I wanted to exercise. Breathing was something optional to me. Needless to say I was completely wrong because breathing is of course essential in yoga!

One particular practice I got to really enjoy is what is called alternate nostril breathing. It was challenging for me at first to get used to this conscious breathing exercise. It felt uncomfortable to breathe in only one nostril but after several attempts and because Adriene made me do it in many of her videos, I found that it helped me to release stress and anxiety and even fatigue. Although it is not the typical body workout, it is still a powerful act. “It’s a direct path for us to communicate quickly to the brain via what we do with our body. It also offers a direct link for balancing the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) and parasympathetic (rest-and-relax) branches of the nervous system.” notes Dr. Paula Watkins in her article about why everyone should try alternate nostril breathing.

This breathing technique works also wonders as a brain break with language learners because not only it is good for our hearts, lungs and our heads, it improves attention and fine-motor coordination/performance. It is great for concentration, cleansing and is a fantastic headache cure too!

Here is a demo by Adriene:

What about you? Does conscious breathing practice help you? Have you tried it in the classroom?

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