Sunday 14 June, 2020.Your Breath is Your Life! Literally!
And each time you take in around 250ml of oxygen and get rid of 200ml of carbon dioxide…
Oxygen is taken into the bloodstream and fuels the production of energy that enables your body to function. And carbon dioxide is expelled along with other toxins.
Can you believe that you do all of this “work” everyday and all day without even thinking about it?
Imagine how you could increase the benefits of all that “work” if you paid some attention to it…
Respiration is an automatic, involuntary activity, but it CAN be conciously controlled.
In times of acute stress, taking a minute to slow down and control your breathing will calm you instantly.
In fact, correct breathing is the key to calming your mind and body.
So, what is it that really causes those uncomforable symptoms of stress?
Is it the work-load, difficult relationship, performance pressure, daily grind…?
Actually, none of these cause stress…
When you are feeling rushed, pressured, inadequate, compromised – Physical tension builds up in your chest and you tend to use only the top third of your lungs to breathe…
Your breathing becomes shorter, sharper and shallower.
What follows is a drop in the levels of carbon dioxide, which is needed to maintain blood acidity in order to regulate breathing. Harmful toxins are also not breathed out. Also, a low level of CO2 tends to make the nervous system more excitable.
(Remember the old remedy of breathing into a paper bag to stop hyperventilation? It increases CO2 in the bloodstream and restores calm.)
This all has a detrimental effect on the nerves and muscles, and consistent shallow breathing can result in tension, tiredness, anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations. Low levels of oxygen in the brain has been associated with depression and other changes in the brain waves.
If you learn to breathe correctly, these conditions can be alleviated and you will also benefit from lower heart-rate, reduced blood pressure and lower levels of stress hormones.
I can tell how healthy a client is, and how they feel about themselves by observing how they breathe. And, one of the first things that I do with a client during a counselling session is breathing exercises.
Deeper breathing and slower pulse are recognised signs of good health – the deeper the breath, the more the body tissues can be oxygenated. And the stronger heart is, the less often it needs to beat.
Just be aware though – telling someone who is already agitated or anxious to “take a deep breath” may make it worse. They are more than likely over their optimum CO2 level and need to SLOW their breathing rather than take in more air.
So, before you try anything else, my advise is that you first learn to Breathe Correctly!
– And all the equipment is free…Your Nose and the Air!
Breath Control Practice
To improve your breathing you must first become aware of it…
- 3 Principles of correct breathing
1. POSITION – Sit up Straight!Your body should be in an upright position instead of being in a hunched-over posture. Slouching all day gets you into the habit of tensing stomach and chest muscles and restricts your breathing.
2. DEPTH – Breathe from your abdomen rather than from your chest!
Allow your belly to move out as you breathe in. And allow your belly to move in as you breathe out. If you find your breathing is too fast or too shallow, try the Abdominal Breathing Exercise.
3. FREQUENCY – Take longer and steadier breathes!
We inhale over 17,000 times a day! That is a lot of work! Your goal is to reduce the number of times from a standard 12 per minute to as few as 4 minute – this can be achieved with practice!
Deep, slow breathing may feel uncomforable at first but is well worth getting used to. The results are so beneficial. But, as with every new skill, it does take practice.
- Try Alternate Nostril Breathing to help you become aware of each breath. This practice can also help you to achieve mental balance and clarity.
- Try having a good YAWN as a way of using your breath to relieve stress.
- I encourage my clients to start any meditation programme or relaxation technique with a breathing exercise.
What works well for me is the –
3 Part – 4 Count Breath.
- Centre yourself and ground yourself into the earth…
And then, as per my simple diagram…
- Take a slow deep breath – filling your lungs from the diaphragm –first 1, then 2, then 3.
- Then out from 1, 2 and 3.
- Start with breathing in for the count of 4, hold for 4 counts, and then out for the count of 4.
- Now hold for 4 counts.So it is –In for 4, Hold for 4, Out for 4, Hold for 4, In for 4.
More Useful Information
- Smell and how it works.
- Breathing Exercises For Anxiety has great tips for controlling panic and anxiety.
- Breathing techniques to start your breath control practice.
- Breathing against the flow is a relaxing technique to try.
- Do you have trouble falling asleep? Try the rhythmic circular breathing for sleep exercise. It works for me everytime!
- If you suffer from blocked sinuses, try a sinus relief massage to unblock your nasal airways.