Every Breath You Take…
Have you focussed on your breath today? Did you know on average, we breathe between 28 – 30,000 times a day?!
Having just broken my leg 3 months ago and needing two surgeries, I was surprised at how focussing on breathing deeply really helped me to control my pain. Of course, I had brought my overnight hospital bag filled with homeopathy, aromatherapy, crystals, Bach Flower Remedies, ear phones to listen to some meditation but my breath, well, that was with me the whole time. And it worked, it seemed as though my pain was lessened when I was focussed on my breath.
Depending on our mood or state of mind, our breath changes. It can be quick, shallow, noisy when we are stressed, angry or afraid. However, when we are happy and relaxed, it is a slower, deeper breath. Generally, though, we pretty much breathe automatically, not giving it much thought at all.
Just as our breath changes depending on how we are feeling; how we are feeling can be changed by our breath!
Benefits of Deep Breathing
Lowers Stress Levels — deep breathing is the fastest way to shift your body from functioning out of the sympathetic drive; the "fight or flight” response (feeling stressed or tense) to the parasympathetic nervous system (feeling relaxed).
Alleviates Anxiety — studies have shown that deep breathing before an exam or performance effectively reduces anxiety and lack of concentration. It naturally relaxes the mind and body
Detoxes the Body — toxins are released through breathing. Carbon dioxide is a natural toxic waste that needs to be expelled from the body regularly. If we shallow breath, we may compromise our lungs and have other detoxification systems work harder to get rid of waste, this can tire our body and lead to illnesses.
Reduces pain — it has been proven that deep breathing releases endorphins which are natural feel-good painkillers.
Regulates our Emotions — research studies by Dr Pierre Philippot investigating the relationship between emotions and respiration reported that breathing can generate and regulate emotions. It showed that different emotional states were associated with a distinct pattern of breath. And if we breath that specific pattern we bring on that associated emotion.
Lowers blood pressure — researchers have seen that slow, deep breaths can help to relax and temporarily dilate blood vessels to cause a drop in blood pressure.
Strengthens the Immune System — any stress, that is the "fight or flight” response, suppresses the immune system. Through doing deep breathing techniques, studies showed there to be lower stress levels and improved immune system functioning.
Improve Sleep — slow, deep breathing whilst in bed switches on the parasympathetic nervous system, encouraging you to relax. Concentrating on your breath also focuses your mind which allows you not to overthink.
Types of Breathing
Place the tip of the tongue against the gum behind your top front teeth. Quietly breathe in the nose for the count of 4. Hold your breath for the count of 7. Exhale through the mouth making a whooshing sound for the count of 8. Repeat at least 4 times.
With shoulders back, put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe in deeply for 2 seconds and feel your belly expand. Then breathe out slowly through your lips. Do this for 5 minutes.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Using your right hand, close off your right nostril with your thumb as you inhale through your left nostril, gently expanding the abdomen and then the lungs. Release your right nostril then take your right ring finger close off your left nostril as you exhale from the right nostril. Leave your ring finger over the left nostril, inhale from the right. Release the ring finger, close off the right nostril then exhale from the left. Do 9 full breaths – one full breath is in left, out right, then in right, out left.
Take a Deep Breath…
Deep breathing is one of the simplest ways to improve your health. You can do it anywhere and at any time, with no cost. Incorporating a regular practice of these deep breathing techniques twice a day will produce an improvement in your mental as well as physical health.
Breathe in, breathe out…