Written By Elizabeth McLean @ Health Wiz
Recently a friend of mine who happens to be a physiotherapist asked me if I had given much thought to the importance of breathing. ‘What’s it all about?’ he asked. ‘How can focusing on the breath improve my own life and the lives of my clients?’ This was a brilliant question which I had also pondered.
Normally, breathing occurs automatically and falls under the control of the autonomic nervous system. However, you can also control your breath consciously; choosing to take deep breaths, shallow breaths, fast breaths or slow breaths. When you are breathing under autonomic control, you are likely to be taking shallow breaths rather than deep breaths, particularly when at rest. The problem with this shallow breathing is that it can lead to reduced lung capacity which can impair your energy levels and concentration span during the day. Shallow breathing can also be caused by anxiety or stress and can lead to fatigue, poor posture and stiffness in the shoulders neck and back.
Next time you feel anxious or stressed try taking three slow, deep breaths and assess the effect it has on your physical body.
1…… 2…… 3…….
Allow your rib cage to expand outwards, and imagine the air traveling deep into your lungs. After just a few deep breaths, increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain and muscles will increase your mental alertness and sense of well-being. If you can make the time to stop what you are doing several times a day and consciously breathe (either indoors or even better go outdoors into the fresh air for a few minutes), you will reap the benefits.
Stopping to breathe brings forces you to reconnect with your physical body and become more aware of your body’s needs.
Stopping to breathe leads to a dramatically calmer, clearer mind.
Stopping to breathe develops a taller, more confident posture, and a deeper sense of self worth and inner wisdom.
The Yogis of India have been formally practicing breath work for thousands of years. This study of the breath is termed ‘Pranayama’ and is recognized as one of the 8 limbs of Yoga. I was lucky enough to study Pranayama Yoga with a modern day guru in Thailand in 2011. I can honestly say that what I learned in just seven days was nothing short of life changing.
To this day, when I feel stressed in my daily life….
I just b – r – e – a – t – h – e
Learning to harness the power of your breath is truly a blessing.
Have you stopped to breathe today?
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