Think back to when you have witnessed a baby breathing – they breathe and their belly swells. They don’t mind their Buddha bellies! With stress and tension as we grow older, our breathing changes quite dramatically and can become more shallow. It is never too late to change the pattern. This article will help you begin.
To change the way we breathe, we need to understand what we are doing first. Ideally we want to bring the breathe deeply into the body using the full lung capacity we were born with. We accomplish this by abdominal, or diaphramatic breathing. Here’s how: breathe in deeply and allow the lower abdomen to rise. As you exhale allow it to gently lower.
Most of the time we are breathing in and out through the nose – which is a good thing. The nose traps the airborne pollutants that come our way, so if we mouth breath we are taking all the toxins in. We don’t what that, especially with flu season around the corner.That is why a meditation practice is fantastic – it also helps us retrain the way we breathe. In meditation we focus on the breath; which keeps us present. (The breath always takes us back to being present – which is all we really know for sure.)Stop right now and notice how you are breathing…is it deep or shallow? Notice if your belly is rising, or is it more in the upper chest? With stress we tend to have a shallow breathing pattern. If we can take the breath deeper in the body it can take us out of the stress response.
The benefits of breathing deeply are:
Breathing helps us relax and calms down the nervous system. It helps us sleep more soundly, have clarity in our thinking, and washes away anxiety and stress. It oxygenates the body, which leads to greater ease in doing any kind of athletic activity. It helps to eliminate toxins from the body, which increases our strength and vitality.
For inner calm:
As you breathe, imagine you are breathing in joy and peace, and on an exhale, imagine yourself letting go of all tension and worry. We take in and we let go. It is more than just breathing – it is a way of experiencing life. Are we fully taking in the world around us…are we present? And, can we let go – or do we hang on and grip within our bodies, or clench our teeth and jaw.
Breathing exercise to release stress:
Inhale deeply through the nose allowing the lower belly to expand. Now exhale audibly through your mouth. As you do this, pull the belly button gently toward the spine on an exhale as you allow all of the carbon dioxide trapped in the lungs to be pushed out; which relaxes the nervous system and allows the lungs to refill with fresh new air.
To change the way you breathe takes time and awareness. It is important to set up reminders or cues for yourself so you can check in throughout your day. Maybe when you wake up in the morning, in the shower, every time you visit the washroom. Some people set up a gentle chime that goes off every ½ hour. Find a way that works well for you. With new habits we want to make them easy so we continue with them. Enjoy the gift of your beautiful lungs that help keep you alive and breathing!
I wish you an abundant winter season filled with much love, passion and adventure. As always I am here to support you in this life journey and love your feedback.