As newborns we enter the world inhaling and as we die we exit exhaling.
Growing up I remember singing, “If you ain’t breathing you ain’t livin'.”
How little did I know as started working with my breath and becoming conscious of how I breathed what a difference it would make in my life. I noted that with my breath work it made a difference in my emotions, reactions, health and energy levels. While various breathing practices and techniques have been around for centuries science is just beginning to provide solid evidence that breathing exercises reduce anxiety, PTST, depression, insomnia, emotional control and help with attention deficit disorder just to name a few. Breathing uses chemical and mechanical processes to bring oxygen to every cell of your body and every system in your body. Deep breathing stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system sometimes referred to as your rest and relax system vs. your sympathetic system (fight or flight).
Have you ever watched a baby breathe? Are you a chest breather or an abdominal breather? Chest breathing is shallow and occurs most often when we are stressed or in pain whereas abdominal breathing is natural like a newborn baby. With abdominal breathing the stomach expands as the diaphragm moves downward to allow the lungs to fill. By taking shallow breaths you aren’t able to oxygenate your body as well.
Here are a few tips for better breathing. Try counting to five slowly as you breathe in and then hold for brief moment and exhale slowly. Extending your exhale will also help you relax. Another helpful tip is to take deeper breaths and push your stomach out on your inhalation while it may feel forced at first it will become easier. Sometimes this is easier to feel this lying down. If your stomach doesn’t move you need more practice. Breathing with awareness and intent will also help clear your mind. Try simply following your breath from the inhalation thru your nose, down your trachea, into your chest and your stomach and then follow it as you exhale. As your mind wanders bring it back to your breath.
Breathwork benefits your body, mind and spirit. Try five minutes a day for a week and let me know how you feel.