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Deep Breathing: A Great Health Trick

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Deep Breathing:  A Great Health Trick

I learned how to do deep breathing about thirty years ago while watching the PBS program, “Lilias, Yoga, and You.” This half-hour yoga class was taught by the sweet-spirited Lilias Folan and featured the expected lotus, fish, and shoulder stands familiar to anyone who’s explored this form of exercise. The thing that has stuck with me down through the years, however, has been the breathing and relaxation techniques she taught. I still use these methods when I need to relax, such as when I have to get a blood test or can’t sleep. Here are some tips for getting started.


1. Sit in a relaxed pose, either on the floor or in a chair. Focus on your breath for a few moments as you breathe normally.

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2. Now inhale through the nose to a slow count of four. Envision your lungs filling up from your belly to your collarbones. At the top of the breath, pause a split second before exhaling to a count of four. Let the air out from the collarbone back down to the belly, and squeeze the abs a bit to make sure it is all out. (If this is easy for you, you can extend the exhale to the count of six or even eight.)

3. Now take a moment to pay attention to how that breath made you feel.

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When breathing deeply for relaxation, the technique of paying attention to how you feel is all important. Look for pockets of tension in your muscles. Places where tension settles can be anywhere, but the shoulders are of course a common place. If you sense tension here, make a conscious effort to let those shoulders drop. Pay attention to the muscles of your face and tell them to relax as well.

Lilias used to teach us to breathe in energy and breathe out tension. Then she would talk us through a wonderful sequence of progressive relaxation, starting with the feet and working muscle by muscle up the body. Learning to do this can make getting to sleep easier. It can also help a person be able to tell when they are tensing up somewhere in the body. Progressive relaxation is also used in self-hypnosis.

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I never got into thinking of yoga as anything more than physical exercise, but the stretches do make you feel great. However, I feel knowing how to breathe and relax is a skill that has served me well for many years, and I urge everyone to learn it.

References:
Folan, Lilias. Lilias! Yoga Gets Better with Age
Allman, Brian. Self-Hypnosis; The Complete Manual For Health And Self-Change

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Barbara Wood is a writer and educator living in the Missouri Ozarks.

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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