Remember to breathe, even with your mask on

Did you know that Yoga Breathing is an important part of staying healthy while wearing a mask? It’s true!

This is because in yoga, we train our minds and bodies to take slow, deep breaths that push air all the way down into our bellies.

Recent studies have found that people tire more easily when they are wearing a face mask. This is because when we don’t think about our breathing, we tend to take shorter, shallow breaths.

These shallow breaths only push the air down into our chest. This means the air isn’t moving very deeply into our bodies to supply oxygen to the many parts of our body that need it.

Breathing in a mask requires more effort than breathing without one. We need as much oxygen as possible moving throughout our bodies to give us energy so that we don’t feel so tired while wearing a mask. That is why taking deep yoga breaths can be very helpful.

Here is how you can practice taking those deep belly breaths.

  1. Find a place where you can sit or stand comfortably.

  2. Gently place your hands on your belly.

  3. Take a slow, deep breath of air in through your nose. Push the air so far down that you feel your belly rise–almost as though it’s inflating like a balloon.

  4. Pause.

  5. Slowly push the air back out through your nose and feel your belly gently fall. (If exhaling through your nose feels uncomfortable, you can softly exhale through your mouth instead.)

  6. Repeat 2-3 times.

Julie Christianson, a children’s physical therapist in Minnesota, has some advice on how to use yoga breathing and other strategies to help you and your children feel your best while wearing a mask. Here are some of the helpful tips she had to share.

  • Before putting on your mask, take several deep belly breaths to calm your mind and energize your body with lots of healthy air.

  • As you go throughout your day wearing your mask, pause frequently to take 2-3 deep belly breaths. This will not only help you feel more alert, it will also begin to retrain your brain to take those deep breaths without you having to think about it.

  • Also take time throughout your day to relax your chest and shoulder muscles with shoulder shrugs, arm circles, and side stretches. This helps open your chest for more efficient breathing. Stretches also help you feel calm and focused.

  • When possible, find a safe, socially-distanced space to take a “Mask Break.” Rest and take deep belly breaths. This will help remind you it’s important to breathe in this way even when you are not wearing your mask.

  • Drink plenty of fluids. We tend to breathe through our mouths more when wearing a mask, which leads to dehydration. Keep yourself healthy with lots of water!

We hope you are able to use these tips to help you and your family feel your best while you navigate the changes COVID has brought into our lives.

We also have a video demonstrating deep belly breathing along with a guided meditation centered on finding calm while wearing a mask.

Thank you to Miss Amy and Miss Liz for their collaboration on this!

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