The breath is our lifeforce. Oxygen is the brain's elixir.
As we age our breath tends to become more rapid, uneven and shallow, only using the upper part of our lungs and chest. Shallow chest breathing limits the efficiency of our lungs causing tension in muscles, speeds up heart rate and weakens the diaphragm. The body receives less oxygen and inefficiently uses energy.
Breathing is taken care of by the autonomic nervous system and therefore a process we do not need to think about, assuming everything is working properly. Rapid, shallow breathing can be linked to an emotional state (stress, anxiety, anger, fear), hormonal imbalances, medication, diet, or a history of disease (cardiac, renal, respiratory). It is when faulty patterns of breath start to develop subconsciously from these other causes that the problem arises, changing the automatic process without us knowing.
Babies are the true experts when it comes to breathing. Watching the gentle rise and fall of their bellies as they sleep shows how they automatically use their full lung capacity to breath deeply.
Benefits of deep diaphragmatic breathing:
Reduces stress, anxiety and tension
Improved mental health
Promotes circulation and oxygenates blood
Stimulates the lymphatic system
Supports immune function
Strengthen stomach muscles
Improved mobility through the rib cage and spine
Builds stamina and increased energy
Increased focus and productivity
The process of re-training ourselves how to properly breath deeply, using the diaphragm becomes a conscious effort to deeply inhale and fully exhale. By paying attention to deep steady breathing we are able to positively influence our overall health.
With a deep inhale the lungs fill, encouraging the diaphragm to move downward blowing up the belly like a balloon.
A full exhale empties the lungs, deflating and gently contracting the belly as the diaphragm moves upward.
The movement of breath through the ribs should be cylindrical and balloon like, with the expansion and contraction.
In a comfortable seated position with the eyes closed and shoulders relaxed down, shift your breathing to be through the nose with the lips gently together.
- On the in breathe slowly count to 4
- Evenly match that 4 count on the out breathe
- Repeat this steady rhythm 10 times
Twice daily pause to take these deep and steady breaths.
Use as a calming tool when feeling anxious or overwhelmed during the day.
Perfect first thing in the morning to start the day or winding down before bed.