Our breath can hold keys to Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Breathing is something most people don’t even think about. After all our body takes care of it for us…it’s not like we have to think about it right… well here is another perspective…
‘Breath is life’ for without it the body will no longer function. Many people who experience low vitality and feeling exhausted all the time are not breathing correctly. If we are chronically exhausted and stressed we may go on to experience debilitating anxiety. The good news is that ‘Our Breath can hold keys for overcoming stress and anxiety’.
There are certain things in our life we cannot control or change but with practice we CAN IMPROVE our breathing habits.
ANXIETY affects breathing and Poor Breathing increases Anxiety.
When STRESSED our muscles become tight and knotted and our emotions maybe running riot, our mind is confused and we may feel ANXIOUS and constantly WORRIED. We may have a knot in our belly and or throat that tightens more with stress and reduces our breathing capacity. Our shoulder may be tense and locked up. This tension reduces our breath capacity. When anxious breathing becomes shallow, rapid and erratic and sometimes we feel as if we can’t breath at all. Our brain and body cells are literally being starved of oxygen due to poor breathing. This of course will exacerbate our feelings of anxiety and a vicious circle can occur.
How does the Quality of our Breath affect the Quality of our Health?
With Yoga and Meditation we understand that breath is closely linked to prana or subtle bioenergy. Science now recognises this also. Our lungs are wonderfully formed within our chest to take the oxygen into the capillaries(tiny blood vessels) and on to all the bodies cells. The lungs also transport the carbon dioxide waste from the blood and release it as we breath out. So here are some important points to know about how else good lung function and correct breathing will improve your health by increasing cellular oxygenation and increase prana or bioenergy.
The Quality of Air we Breath ?
The quality of the air we breath is important. Many of us work in artificial environments and outside in the city we will also be inhaling toxic waste into our lungs. There will be less oxygen available. Keeping your house windows open for good air flow is important as is your choice of environment.
Sea air is very beneficial as is the highly oxygenated air of the forest or if your in a small unit have potted plants in your environment or diffuse relaxing essential oils.
The Quantity of Air we Breath ?
The lungs are like balloons and as such very flexible within the chest easily expanding and contracting as they fill and empty with air. Yet most people don’t use their full lung capacity thus their cells are deprived of living giving oxygen. Yoga Breathing offers an increased capacity of breath by including the movement of the diaphragm muscles that separate the lungs from the abdominal cavity. This means will fill the lower lungs which have the greatest capacity.
How Our Posture affect Breath Capacity?
Poor posture such as slumping over desks, walking or standing with hunched shoulders will reduce the capacity of our lungs. Practice sitting or standing upright, head looking to the horizon, lift and lead with the heart and relax your shoulder blades down the back thus increasing your breath capacity and oxygen intake considerably.
Mouth or Nose Breathing ?
Continual mouth breathing can be very detrimental to our health. Our nose is a wonderfully designed breathing apparatus.
Lining the nasal cavity is a mucous membrane rich with tiny blood vessels. These capillaries enable the nose to warm and humidify incoming air quickly. Cells in the mucous membrane produce mucus and have tiny hairlike projections (cilia). Usually, the mucus traps incoming dirt particles, which are then moved by the cilia toward the front of the nose or down the throat to be removed from the airway. This action helps clean, warm and humidify the air to maintain lung health. Sadly many people who have blocked nostrils or chronic sinus often breath through the mouth. I have noticed mouth breathers experience more colds, sinus and infections. It is important to breath out through the nose as well to keep the nasal passages warm.
Will Nose Breathing help my Mental Clarity ?
YES. Breathing through the nose stimulates the frontal cortex of the brain. It helps keep the sinuses healthy too. Increased airflow through the right nostril is correlated to increased left brain activity and increased airflow through the left nostril is associated with increased right brain activity and enhanced creative and spatial performance. When the nostrils are balanced we feel balanced.
Should I hold my Tummy in?
Many women are taught from a young age to hold their tummy in to look good. In ancient times women wore corsets and they are unfortunately coming back in fashion. Many women during the tight laced corset fashion would faint easily and thus women were thought of a ‘the weaker sex’.
In YOGIC BREATHING it is important to fill the lower lungs first as they are the largest air holding space. As we do this the flexible muscle structure of the diaphragm drops down to accommodate the expanding lungs our abdomen rises or moves outward.
How can Breathing Help my Digestion ?
As the lower lungs fill on inhalation the abdomen displaced offering a massage to the liver, stomach and intestines as they are gently pushed downward thus encouraging better peristaltic movement and blood circulation. When relaxed our digestion improves and deep breathing encourages relaxation.
How do I breath Correctly?
Lie down on the mat or bed and place your hands over the abdomen. Remember your lungs have their largest capacity at the base, so breath in beginning for fill the lungs from the bottom to the top.
Feel the abdomen rise under your hands first, then the rib cage expands as the chest fills and finally the collar bones lift as the lungs fill completely. Pause a moment and then breath out long and completely feeling the chest relax and the abdomen fall.
Stages of MINDFUL YOGIC BREATHING
While inhaling feel:
- Your abdomen expand.
- Your chest and rib area open and expand.
- Your upper chest or collar bone area lift a little.
- Breath out completely feel as if your letting go of all worries and relaxing back into yourself and continue.
So take a deep breath and feel the JOY OF LIFE filling you up