The stress and craziness of Christmas and the New Year is over, take a breath. In fact, take several.
Daily, consciousness of breath is essential for health. Breathe deeply into your belly - It is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body.
But we need to make sure we make them good breaths! We all tend to breath the wrong way. Yes, the wrong way. Breathing is innate, we all do it - without thinking about it, we have all have known how to do it since birth. But we don’t always do it, naturally, the most effective way. The way it benefits our bodies the most.
We tend to take more frequent, shallow breaths. Filling our lungs by puffing out our chest when asked to take a deep breath. But this way we aren’t getting enough oxygen. And when we don’t get enough oxygen our heart has to work harder and so many things suffer including our circulation/blood flow and our metabolism. Our metabolism slows down and becomes sluggish and so do we.
Stress increases inflammatory chemicals in the body which contributes to chronic pain. Slow, deep breathing reminds us we are not in danger and helps to turn off that fight or flight response we are all too often in.
Other benefits include:
Improves blood flow – your heart doesn’t have to work as hard
Reduces stress - calms down anxiety (as mentioned above)
Helps you sleep better
Improves posture and helps strengthen your core
Increases your energy level – wakes you up better than a cup of coffee (that is a whole other blog post!)
Helps to reduce pain, even chronic pain - can be a natural pain killer
Brings back your focus
How to do it - there are many ways, but here is a basic rhythm to get you started:
To start, find a comfortable spot to sit or lay down. Once you are well practiced at this, you can do this anywhere.
Inhale, slowly through your nose for a count of 3 - 5 seconds - fill your belly with air
Hold for 3 - 5 seconds
Exhale through your nose for 3 - 5 seconds (use the same count as your inhale) - use your core muscles to slowly push all the air out of your body
Put your to do list out of your mind. Put your thoughts about what to cook for dinner or worries about work or kids on hold while you clear your mind and just breathe.
Notice the stillness around you. Notice your body starting to relax and slow down. Notice the air filling your belly as it expands and focus on pushing all the air out when you exhale. Notice the stillness and calmness of your mind and the rhythm of your breath.
Repeat a minimum of 9 more times.
Aim for 100 breaths a day.
Do sets of 10 breaths several times a day. Wake up and take 10 deep belly breaths. Do 10 breaths before each meal (this will also greatly aid in proper digestions). Take 10 deep breaths each time you sit in the car to go somewhere. Every time you start to feel overwhelmed by your to do list or worried about something you have to do today, stop and take 10 deep breaths. Take 10 deep, calming breaths while in bed before going to sleep. Before you know it, without thinking about it too much, you will be well on your way to your 100 breaths a day!
And if you practice yoga daily or meditation, which I highly recommend, you will get in many great deep, belly breaths. One hundred will not be a problem!
No excuses - You can do it Anywhere!
The great thing about deep breathing is that you can do it whenever and wherever you are. You don’t need fancy equipment; you don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need to carve out 30 min of your day to do it and best of all - it is free.
So, why not give it a try! I mean, what have you got to lose?
Added bonus. Do some of your breaths outside in the sunshine. And if there isn’t sunshine, at least in the fresh air. Clean out those lungs. Breathe in the energy and the vitality of the Earth. Let it fill your soul.