Alternate Nostril Breathing
One form of a breathing exercise that can help you destress, and feel calm, grounded, and balanced during the holiday season (or any time of year) is alternate nostril breathing. This breathing exercises helps to balance the left and right (lunar and solar) pathways of breath in the body and instantly calms and focuses the mind.
Sit comfortably in a place free from distractions. Sit with a straight spine as much as possible, or use support for the spine if needed. Rest your left hand comfortably in your lap, or in jnana mudra with the thumb and index finger touching and the remaining three fingers extended. This is the mudra, or hand position, of knowledge and wisdom. Close eyes and turn attention inward.
Make a loose fist with your right hand. Keeping index and middle finger folded into the palm, extend the ring finger and thumb. Plug right nostril with your thumb and inhale through left nostril for a slow count of three. Keep thumb plugging right nostril while you plug left nostril with your ring finger and hold breath calmly for a slow count of 9. While holding breath, keep face and jaw relaxed and keep your inner gaze at your third eye, your point of intuition between the eyebrows. Release thumb while still plugging left nostril with ring finger, and exhale right nostril for a count of 6. Repeat on the other side by inhaling right for 3, holding breath while plugging both nostrils for 9, and exhaling left for 6. Continue – inhale left for 3, hold for 9, exhale right for 6, etc. for five minutes. Then return breathing to normal with eyes closed, and simply observe the calming effects on the mind.
You can make counts shorter or longer but the ratio should be 1-3-2, and should be as long as possible without straining.