Deep breathing is a simple, effective tool to enhance and aid a healthy life style.
In today’s society, chronic stress has become common place and is having a toxic effect on our overall health and wellbeing. Stress leads to quick, shallow breathing which becomes a habit. This means we are not using our lungs to their full potential, only makes use of the top part of the lungs. Stress also increases blood pressure, muscle tension, headaches and other health concerns. When we breathe too quickly and shallowly we don’t clear the build-up of toxins and stale air from the lungs. Focusing on breathing can bring you into the present moment creating feelings of calm, clarity and control. These are things we don’t feel when we are stressed, unwell or anxious.
Deep breathing causes the lungs to fill right to the bottom, expanding the diaphragm and muscles around the ribs and abdomen. This action also looks after our organs as the muscle movement massages the liver, intestines, heart and stomach detoxifying them and promoting better blood flow to those organs. The lymphatic system also benefits from deep breathing as it has no other mechanism to stimulate it other than muscular movements.
Deep breathing releases endorphins which act as natural pain relievers and help us to feel good. It also strengthens weak abdominal and intestinal muscles improving digestion and posture and allows us to take time out to relax and clear the mind.
Pam Grout, author of “jump start your metabolism: how to lose weight by changing the way you breathe” says shallow breathing impoverishes the cells of the body and slows metabolism affecting weight gain and poor digestion. By increasing oxygen to the cells through deep breathing we are stimulating metabolism and digestion. This can help with weight loss and/or weight management.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Give it a try now. Below is a simple way to practice deep breathing.
Sit or stand comfortably where you are and bring your attention to your breathing. Notice the rhythm of your breath, in and out, in and out. Notice the sensation of the air as it enters your nose, fills your lungs and flows out through your mouth. Place your hand on your abdomen, as you breathe in your diaphragm will expand and push your hand out. Pause for a moment before you breathe out and again when all the air has left your lungs. It is in the pause that relaxation and quieting of the mind can be found. This is one of the easier ways to calm and centre yourself and can be done anywhere, sitting at your desk, in line at the super market or when stuck in traffic.
Practice this every day for 10minutes and see how much better you feel.
To ease tension and give your energy a good boost, try this breathing exercise.
Begin by sitting or lying comfortably. Count to 4 as you breathe in, taking the breath all the way down into your belly. Imagine the air is filling your abdomen, hips and lower back. If it helps to draw your breath down, place your hands on your abdomen or pelvis. Breathe out to the count of 6 allowing the weight of your chest to push all the air out of your lungs and then pause for the count of 4. Continue for a few minutes and notice how much calmer and centred you feel. You may also notice how your mind is clear of negative and racing thoughts.
To make deep breathing a healthy, rewarding habit that improves your health through relaxation, simply practice the above exercises daily for 10 to 20 minutes and try to put other thoughts aside. You will begin to love the feel of instant relaxation and you will be better equipped to manage stress and other life challenges with greater ease and confidence.