“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” – Sylvia Plath
Yet so many of us (almost all of us) don’t breathe as well as we could. We are designed to breathe ‘diaphragmatically’ using the diaphragm to pull air deep in to our lungs. As we inhale through our noses, our belly expands. As we exhale the belly contracts.
Sadly, we have become conditioned to breathe in a less healthy way. Most of us now breathe through our mouths, taking only small amounts of air in to our chests as we inhale. We hold our breath and suck in our stomachs, causing tension in our bodies in the process. This ‘thoracic breathing’ as it’s called isn’t just damaging to our bodies – it also adversely impacts our nervous systems, leading us to feel more anxious and more stressed over time.
So how can you breathe better?
Practice ‘diaphragmatic breathing’:
Sit comfortably or lie on your back. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest. Breath in through your nose. As you inhale, push out your belly as far as you can (further than feels ‘comfortable) – you will feel your belly rise. The hand on your chest should stay almost still. As you breathe out, your belly pulls in.
Try starting or ending your day with five-minutes of practice. You’ll notice the difference within weeks.
Learn and practice some alternative breath techniques:
Diaphragmatic breathing is the base. Once you have a clearer sense of how to do this, you can build on it by learning some enhanced techniques. Try:
• Heart-Centred breathing – simply breathing in and out deeply, whilst directing your attention to the area of the heart. Imagine the breath in is entering the heart and the breath out is leaving the heart. This technique is proven to balance the heart’s rhythm and reduce the level of the stress hormone cortisol in the body.
• Box Breathing – a great technique for managing stress or panic in the moment – breathe in for four, hold for four, breathe our for four, hold for four.
• Alternate nostril breathing – a yoga technique which brings balance to the body and mind. Press your right nostril closed with your thumb and breathe in through the left nostril. Close your left nostril and breathe out through the right. Now keep your left nostril closed and breathe in through the right. Close your right nostril and breathe out through the left. Repeat.
Experience a ‘Transformational Breath’ workshop:
You can find out more about this powerful and increasingly popular healing modality at www.transformationalbreath.co.uk
I’d love to hear how you get on so do get in touch, and until then – breathe easy.
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