Most people I work with tell me, “I know I should breathe better”.
With just a few minutes each day, one can learn to become
aware of their breath and begin to retrain the way they breathe.
By adopting a breathing exercise or two (there is an exercise I find
easy and AWESOME below),or an entire practice, such as Pranayama,
one can improve health, sharpen the mental skill to focus and develop
greater thought awareness (self awareness/consciousness).
Breath work can help one to gain more influence (power)
over emotional states, stress levels and the experience of anxiety.
Last year, I took a course on breathing from Stig Severinsen,
called, “Breatheology”. Stig says “relaxation is in the exhalation”.
This is the key, in using breath for alleviating stress and anxiety.
We can see that there is always a correlation
between our breathing and our stress level.
This is because there is a direct link between our
breathing and our nervous system. A simplified
way of saying this is: when we inhale, the
“fight or flight” part of our nervous system is
activated, and when we exhale, the “rest and digest”
part of our nervous system is activated. Optimally,
these 2 pathways should be in balance and complement
one another. Unfortunately, in our society, we spend much
too much time in “fight or flight” response. It can be
triggered by our fast paced society, average daily
stressful activities/work, and sensory over-stimulation
(movies, television, and internet). This can have any
number of bad consequences on health and our well-being;
including, the experience of having “too much stress”.
When putting more emphasis on the exhalation,
and the pause between inhalation and exhalation,
we activate this “rest and digest” part of our nervous system,
which also has a job to balance our body, after a “fight or flight”
response. Naturally, it is much more complicated than this;
however, you may use simple breathing techniques, to experience
a lot of relaxation and discover an ability to actively influence
your stress and anxiety levels.
It only takes a few minutes each day, to make real progress
Here is a specific breathing exercise, I have found to be the most
effective, for quick and deep relaxation and it is an excellent all-around
“breathing exercise”, that I would love for you to try:
1) Lye on back and take a 6-12, long, deep breaths to prepare and begin to relax.
2) Breathe in through your nose, for a count of 4,
hold breath for a count of 6 and then breathe out
slowly (mouth or nose) for a count of 11.
If this length is difficult, adjust by shortening the
number of seconds for pausing and exhaling,
to where it is comfortable (and increase the time in future breathing sessions).
3) “Relaxation is on the exhalation”, Stig says; so, as you are holding your breath
and when you are exhaling, focus on your muscles relaxing.
You should feel them release, during the exhale.
4) Take a few relaxed breaths between each of these specific rhythmic breaths and repeat 6 times or more.
I hope you use this quick and effective breathing exercise,
and that it inspires you to develop your breathing even further.
– Chandra Lee Krohn
Personal Trainer & Vitality Coach