Believing in Breathing
The supply of optimum oxygen to the blood is governed by breathing. However, there is more involved.
Breath can be used to find a balance between the body/mind, the conscious/unconscious and the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system.
Breathing is the only bodily function that we do both voluntarily and involuntarily & can be used as a bridge to link body systems over which we have no conscious control.
We can consciously use breathing to influence the involuntary (sympathetic nervous system) that regulates blood pressure, heart rate, circulation, digestion, etc
Learning proper breathing techniques is one most beneficial things you can do for both short & long term physical and emotional health.
Bad Habits - Chest Breathing
Put your right hand on your chest and left hand on your abdomen and breathe. If your right hand raises more, you’re a chest breather & you need to break that bad habit.
Shallow Chest breathing results in less oxygen transfer to the blood & subsequent poor delivery of nutrient to the tissues.
Benefits of Abdominal Breathing
The contraction of the diaphragm muscle causes the abdomen to expand, creating negative pressure in the chest which forces air into the lungs.
Blood & Lymph flow is similarly increased, improving both disease resistance and athletic ability.
Most importantly in a stress-laden society this breathing stimulates the relaxation response.
How to do it
- Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold the breath for 7 seconds.
- Breath out through your mouth with your tongue behind your front teeth, exhaling every last gasp (7 seconds).
- Repeat for 7 cycles.
- Practice this religiously when stressed and combine it with affirmations i.e. “relax”
Breath as a Stimulant Substitute
Instead of using caffeine to kick start your day try this -
The Bellows Breathing Technique
- Sit in a comfortable upright position with your spine straight.
- With your mouth gently closed, breath in an out through your nose as fast as possible. 2-3 cycles per second (equal length in & out like a bicycle pump).
- Continue for 15 seconds initially, building by 5 seconds each exercise. Don’t exceed 60 seconds or you may hyperventilate & lose consciousness.