Take Charge of Your Health and Breathe
One of the most powerful tools you have to restore your health is your Breath. Breathing techniques are safe, easy and the most effective way to shift your body out of the fight or flight stress response and into the relaxation state which optimizes your body’s natural healing and repair abilities.
There’s so much scientific research backing up the power of conscious breathing for anxiety, insomnia, pain relief, immunity, digestive health, high blood pressure, concentration and so much more. It astonishes me that we’re not all making this part of our daily self care, just like drinking more water and eating more vegetables.
Every relaxation or meditative technique relies on breathing as the fundamental access point for calming the body and mind.
Studies show that in addition to providing immediate relief, regular breathing exercises can make people less vulnerable to stress, by permanently modifying the brain’s circuitry.
Yogis and mental health practitioners, alike, know that when it comes to taking charge of our health and our life it’s all about finding ways to soothe and strengthen our nervous system.
So where can you begin? Well, there are many breathing exercises and I love sharing them with my coaching clients. And of course, there are some excellent free apps like Breathwrk or Breathly you can get on your phone if that resonates with you too.
But you can begin Right Now. Conscious breathing exercises are great in the moment when you feel stressed or worried and even better throughout your day during breaks or at moments of transition between two activities (eg. before you eat a meal, before you check email).
If it feels right for you, you can even set an alarm on your phone or computer at the same time, in order to enhance the sense of ritual and establish a habit.
Find a comfortable place to sit with a nice straight spine. Good posture enables your body to breathe properly on its own.
You can keep your eyes in a relaxed open gaze or let them close, whichever feels most comfortable for you.
Inhale through your nose to a count of five seconds, gently pause for 2-3 seconds and exhale through your nose for five seconds.
Breathe “from your belly”. Start by slowly inflating your belly by inhaling, as if to fill it with air, then swell your chest; as you exhale, first “deflate” your stomach, then your chest. You can gently place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest for better focus.
Repeat this breathing pattern for 3- 5 minutes (set a timer).
Give your mind a reassuring thought: With every inhale, mentally recite, “I am inhaling calm” and with every exhale “I am exhaling stress.”
For more like this listen to this week’s Podcast: “Using Neuroscience and Trauma Recovery Yoga to Create Healing Worldwide”