by Amy-Jo Glover
Did you know us humans take around 20,000 -25000 breaths a day? We breathe unconsciously throughout the day, rarely using the full capacity of the lungs or working the diaphragm muscle .Our short breaths activate a part of our nervous system called the sympathetic, which is responsible for our fight and flight response, releasing stress hormones such as cortisol. Continual short breaths can result in a weak diaphragm & lungs, contributing to high levels of stress physically and mentally. Think of your breath as your first source of energy. If you didn’t eat all day your body would slow down to reserve energy, this is the same as your breath.
How we can use the breath to our advantage?
One of my favourite techniques to use is the 4 7 8. Inhaling for 4, holding for 7, & exhaling for 8 counts. Using your breath in 3 parts. This is called full diaphragmatic breathing. First breathing into the belly, then the lungs inflate, lastly the chest lifts. As you exhale the chest drops, then the lungs and lastly the belly. Try this by placing one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest, notice how it feels like a wave rushing through your body, expanding and relaxing, maybe you begin to feel some tightness you weren’t aware of before? As you let go into your slow extended exhale count of 8, relax your body, your face, and let your muscles melt away from your bones.
Taking just 5-8 rounds of this breathing practice will begin to transition your body into the parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest.
Benefits of this include:
Reducing mental & physical stress
Aiding and improving sleep
Lowering heart rate
Lowering blood pressure
Improving your core muscle stability
Nourishing the organs
Activates a recovery process in the body for deep healing.
Lately, most of us have been wearing masks. Maybe your breathing is shorter when you put your mask on? Without realisng, your body is under stress, adapting to wearing something over the face. One way we can help, is to slow our breathing down. Be aware of our breath, and give our body consciously, the energy it deserves, resulting in a calmer, healthier you.
To find out more and to learn these techniques come to one of my online yoga classes.
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