When the breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the breath is still, so too is the mind still…
Breathing is life! Good breathing is the most vital function of good health for the body & mind. Good breathing brings more oxygen to the blood and to the brain providing balance to the body, emotions and clarity of mind.
If the body and mind are deprived of oxygen through poor or incorrect breathing it can lead to stress, anxiety, chronic pain, muscular tension, fatigue, high blood pressure, hyperventilation, depression, headaches and slumped postures.
For babies and small children correct breathing usually comes naturally, but as people get older there is a tendency to breathe shallow and fast, and to also breathe in reverse, contracting the abdomen on inhalation and expanding the abdomen on exhalation. CHECK HOW YOU BREATH!
Healthy Breathing Steps
- Sit cross legged on the floor on a cushion, or in a chair with your spine straight and relaxed, or lie down on your back. It helps you relax more if you have a pillow under your knees when lying down.
- Breathe through your nose because it warms and filters the air and activates your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relax).
- Place your right hand on your diaphragm (just below your ribs) and your left hand on your chest.
As you inhale slowly (through nose), first fill lower sections of the lungs – your diaphragm will expand forward to make room for the air. Second, fill the middle part of your lungs as your chest moves forward slightly to accommodate the air. Third, fill the upper part of your lungs as you raise your chest slightly. You will feel your shoulders and collarbones raise slightly.
- As you exhale (through nose) very slowly draw your abdomen back slightly. When you have completely exhaled relax your abdomen and chest. Pause before your next in breath.
During inhalation the stomach expands forward and inflates like a balloon and during exhalation the stomach contracts back gently deflating like a balloon.
Combine these four steps into slow and smooth inhalations and exhalations, like a rolling motion. Try some exhales out the mouth, blowing the air out as if you are blowing out birthday candles.
It is helpful to do this exercise three times a day for five breaths so it becomes more natural. Do it at times of stress or anxiety, you’ll be amazed how much it changes your physical and mental state. Feel the stress leave your body while your mind becomes calm.
Don’t overdo breathing exercises – allow your own respiratory centre to take the automatic role, you don’t want to hyperventilate, especially when you are learning this technique. With practice it will soon become more natural.