You breathe in and out about 20,000 times a day. How many of those breaths are you consciously aware of? How many of those breaths do you really enjoy and appreciate?
You know we all breathe to stay alive, but are you aware of the power of your breath? There are so many health benefits, and it is an incredible tool to help anchor you when you’re feeling flustered, sad, angry or anxious.. It only needs to take a snippet of time and you can be in a state of calm, focus, clarity and presence✨
Deep breathing is also called abdominal or belly breathing. It involves inhaling slowly and deeply through the nose, causing the lungs to fill with air as the belly expands. Shallow chest breathing is highly correlated with your body’s fight/flight response and the increase of the stress hormone, cortisol.
It takes time to get the hang of breathing techniques, and for some this doesn’t come naturally so go easy on yourself. Breathing consciously is not something we do all day, so our brain likes to give us some distractions when we practise mindfulness. Negative emotions, thoughts, and things on your ‘to-do’ list, will often pop up. This is totally fine, it’s all part of the process.
Five benefits of breathing consciously:
Activate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest mode) so that you can feel calm and repair your body. Breathing consciously is the fastest way to regulate your sympathetic nervous system (flight/fight mode). This is your body's physical response to being in danger (getting chased by a tiger), however too often we are in this state for things that aren’t actually life threatening (rushing, something someone said etc). Belly breathing helps you to have higher amounts of oxygen in the blood, and so it communicates to your brain that you are safe, so that you can get back into your rest & digest mode - to be in a calm state, repair the body, decrease heart rate and blood pressure.
Calming breath: inhale for a count of 4, exhale for a count of 6. Work your way up to 4:8. An extended out breath will calm your nervous system.
By being mindful and bringing your attention to our breath, you can change your physiology, mood and thoughts in a few moments. It is a great tool to have in your toolbox for times when you feel overwhelmed, stressed, rage is building and so on. Only a few moments can make a difference so that you can enjoy this present moment.
Check in: Become more self aware and check in with your thoughts and feelings. Find a self awareness guided relaxation and breathe.. observe your thoughts or feelings, accept them, let go, and let them float away like clouds in the sky. What else is in your toolbox that you can use to support your mood?
When you breathe and calm your mind and nervous system, you have less stressful thoughts, you’re more productive, able to concentrate better and you heighten your performance. If you are breathing shallow and fast, it causes your nervous system to up-regulate and you will feel tense and anxious. Focus on the present moment, often thinking too far into the future leads to anxiety. Breath slowly and deeply. Self calm and self heal through your breath.
Box breathing: Also known as square breathing, helps you to slow down your breathing. This is great for distracting your mind, calming your nervous system and decreasing stress or anxiety. Each side of the square is 4 seconds - Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds. Repeat this for four or five rounds.
You are able to handle our emotions better when you are in your parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest). Your thoughts slow down and you are able to make better decisions. With practice, Instead of reacting to situations, you will be able to pause, breathe and then decide how you want to handle the situation.
Belly breathing: find a comfortable position sitting up right or lying down. Play a guided relaxation or listen to some relaxing music for a while. Focus on your breath, the more you practise the more you will breathe diaphragmatically. You can use a mantra to help you stay present - breathe in, breathe out.
Often peoples shoulders are up near their ears if they are stressed, or hunched over a laptop or phone. Poor posture limits the diaphragm ability to do its job, which can impact how you feel each day. What is your posture like? Breathing deeply and diagrammatically opens your chest and belly, pulls your shoulder blades back, realigning your spine and your neck.
Shoulder roll: sit up straight, straighten your spine and make your belly soft. As you breathe in, roll your shoulders forward- out and up, exhale as you roll your shoulders back. Keep rolling your shoulders and breathing deeply.
The way that you breathe can impact your whole body.
The more you breathe mindfully, the more you will see the benefits.
There are so many simple breathing techniques you can use to support you, find some more on our instagram and facebook, or come to join one of our workshops!
Sit up straight, relax your jaw, face, shoulders, smile, and breathe… in and out…