By Lena Berchielli
"Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders." Andrew Weil, M.D.
Springtime is here. We should all be out enjoying the beautiful warm weather, the lovely blossoms, and pleasant fresh air. We should all go outside take a deep breath and a long relaxing walk, for our health and our peace of mind.
· According to the American Lung Association, the average person takes more than 20,000 breaths a day. However, most people take shallow, rapid chest breaths, about 15-20 per minute. They don't absorb enough oxygen and carbon dioxide to maintain energy and pH levels, nor do they expel their breath in such a way that toxins are purged from the body.
· Most emotional issues, including breathing related anxiety and depression, result from the nervous system being out of balance. Breathing drives the nervous system.
· Science has proven that cancer is anaerobic - it does not survive in high levels of oxygen.
· Shortness of breath and heart disease are directly linked - the heart goes into spasm when it is deprived of oxygen. A lot of people who believe they have Heart Disease are really suffering from improper breathing.
· Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between high blood pressure and poor breathing.
· Proper breathing can help to promote weight loss. Oxygen burns fat and calories.
· Breathing well is the key to sleeping well and waking up feeling rested.
Virtually every health condition and human activity is improved with Proper Breathing. The breath can be used to consciously slow our heart rate, decrease perspiration, and relax muscles.
Breathing Techniques for Stress Reduction
Breathing techniques should be practiced regularly if possible to receive the most benefit. As you practice, you will become more comfortable with proper breathing. Start with diaphragmatic breathing and practice it regularly. As you feel comfortable with it, move on to full yogic breathing. Each technique can be used on its own to help you with stress reduction or in conjunction with other stress relieving techniques, such as meditation and yoga.
Diaphragmatic Breathing is belly breathing. It is the type of breathing we start with as babies before the adult stresses in life change our breathing. It triggers the relaxation response, slows the breathing rate, decreasing the work of the lungs and the demand for oxygen, decreases the effort needed for breathing while strengthening the lungs, diaphragm, and immune system.
1. Close your eyes, keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose. Push your belly out as you inhale so you are getting a full breath.
2. Now as slowly as possible exhale through your nose (mouth closed) concentrate on bringing your belly button towards your spine.
3. Repeat until you feel your stress melt away.
Full Yogic Breathing
Full yogic breathing is a form of breathing that utilizes abdominal, mid, and upper chest breath. It releases tension, either acute or chronic, that may have accumulated, can help overcome shortness of breath and asthma, strengthens the cardio-vascular system and stimulates the nervous system, reduces anxiety and mental stress, helps to expel toxins from the body, increases the quantity of red blood cells, and improves stamina and vitality.
1. Start with Diaphragmatic Breathing - Close your eyes, keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose. Push your belly out as you inhale so you are getting a full breath. Now as slowly as possible exhale through your nose (mouth closed) concentrate on bringing your belly button towards your spine, repeat several times.
2. Then inhale slowly through your nose pushing your belly out, then inhale a little deeper filling your chest. Now as slowly as possible, exhale through your nose (mouth closed) emptying your belly then your chest. Repeat several times.
3. Lastly, inhale deeply fill your belly, then your chest, then take one more slurp of air filling up to your (metaphoric) ears. Now slowly with control exhale all the air out of your belly and your chest. Repeat several times.
4. Then, breathe gently for several moments feeling the calm of your oxygenated body.
Now you know the proper breathing techniques, go outside take a deep breath. While you are enjoying that steady heart rate, decreased perspiration, and relaxed muscles brought about by proper breathing, look around and enjoy the beautiful spring day too.
Lena Robin's Blog
A Writer's Life!
Writer, communications coach, mom, wife, crazy cat lady, and yogi extraordinaire (not really but we can pretend).
Don't miss anything!