Education & empowerment for a balanced, fulfilled life. Sharing the Wellness Lifestyle- encouraging a balance of physical, social, emotional, spiritual & mental health. Sharing Shaklee, #1 Natural Nutrition Co. A mind.body.spirit blog of sorts.
This week’s Wellness Wednesday topic is all about Deep Breathing- also known as “breathing awareness”, “diaphragmatic breathing” and “deep breathing”.
The Fall is such a beautiful time of year, you step outside and the air feels cooler and there is something invigorating about the season changing. It is a really good time to start practicing your breathing exercises so that you build up some experience before the hectic and often stressful holiday season starts.
This is a topic almost so simple that we often overlook the amazing benefits. Stress is toxic to the body, it does serious damage. We are in a constant state of “flight, fight or freeze” stress response. We need to teach our bodies how to respond more positively to stress and create more peace in our bodies to offset the negative effects of stress.
One of the best ways to do this is to practice your breathing exercises.
The key is to practice when you are not under stress, to make it part of your daily routine, so that you can really experience the benefits and allow your body to completely relaxed.
The basic mechanics of controlled breathing differ a bit depending on who is describing them, but they usually include three parts: (1) inhaling deeply through the nose for a count of five or so, making sure that the abdomen expands, (2) holding the breath for a moment, and (3) exhaling completely for a count longer than the inhalation.
Why is this important to learn?
Some of the proposed benefits of deep breathing practice include:
1) Stress relief-
The most direct application of controlled breathing and the one we hear about most is managing stress. Our brains are routinely on high alert for threats in our environment—the flight, fight or freeze response.
When stressed, we need more oxygen, but tend to take shallow breaths. Even a few deep breaths can help us to calm down and think more clearly. Controlled breathing promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation and help us de-stress.
2) Sparks brain growth-
One of the more intriguing research developments involving controlled breathing is that when it’s used to facilitate meditation, the result can be an actual increase in brain size. Specifically, the brain experiences growth in areas associated with attention and processing of sensory input. This is very important for our senior adults who need to keep their brains healthy and active.
3) Lowers blood pressure and heart rate-
Research suggests that when practiced consistently, controlled breathing will result in lower blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn results in less wear and tear on blood vessels.
Over time, using controlled breathing to lower blood pressure and heart rate can help prevent stroke and lower risk of cerebral aneurysm.
4) Other benefits- improve immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion. Reduces anxiety and fight depression.
How to practice with your Kids
Kids’ “blow out the candles” breathing. Wiggle your fingers in front of your face and “blow out the candles” counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 inhale and do the other hand 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
How to start practicing
Simple counting breaths. Count 1, 2, hold 1, 2, exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 hold 1, 2. Practice that then start to make your breath longer, slower, steadier and smoother. Continue for 2 minutes, work up to 5 minutes 1-3 times/day.
Breathing Awareness and Deep Breathing
Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair, maintaining good posture. Your body should be as relaxed as possible. Close your eyes. Scan your body for tension.
Pay attention to your breathing. Place one hand on the part of your chest or abdomen that seems to rise and fall the most with each breath. If this spot is in your chest you are not utilizing the lower part of your lungs.
Place both hands on your abdomen and follow your breathing, noticing how your abdomen rises and falls.
Breathe through your nose.
Notice if your chest is moving in harmony with your abdomen.
Now place one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest.
Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose into your abdomen. You should feel your abdomen rise with this inhalation and your chest should move only a little.
Exhale through your mouth, keeping your mouth, tongue, and jaw relaxed.
Relax as you focus on the sound and feeling of long, slow, deep breaths.
Hope you try a couple of these exercises this week and notice some stress relief!