Just stop everything you are doing and take a moment to think about how you are breathing – right now.
Almost instantly,you will see and feel your breathing slowing down…….try to prolong the process a little more – if you have the time………. you are now in the realm of conscious breathing…….after 5 minutes of conscious breathing, your vagus nerve (the happy nerve) will have begun to increase the levels of serotonin in your blood and this will lead to a calmer you – its that quick and simple.
What will also strike you is that you have become more aware of yourself, what you are doing, who is with you, what space you are in and how you are feeling – just by being aware of how you are breathing.
The trick is to remember to do this on a regular basis during your day.
So, if you have a mobile phone, set up your alarm on your calendar, to remind you to breathe consciously for a few minutes – make sure it is a quiet alarm that only you will see, hear or feel and just do it – you will be amazed at what happens to you.
BREATHING AND STRESS
Proper breathing and the ability to relax are essential aspects of dealing with stress.
Breathing exercises and relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscular relaxation, work by initiating the relaxation response - a physiological mechanism which counteracts the effects of stress and after a time, puts the body and mind into a profound state of relaxation.
Other benefits may include lowered blood pressure and levels of stress hormones, improved lung function and digestion, decreased blood sugar and cholesterol, improved immune system function, central physiological stability, greater mental clarity, calmness, and a greater sense of self-awareness.
THE CONSCIOUS BREATHING METHOD
The basic method of abdominal breathing
This method of breathing has been handed down over thousands of years, by masters of meditation and yoga and once mastery of it has been attained, which is not difficult, you will think about the way you breathe each day of your life, from then on.
The reason for this is that only through the correct breathing mechanism will you be able to relax, deeply relax.
Only when you are able to relax properly, will you be able to become more aware of how you breathe
Quiet, concentrated breathing brings about a quiet state of mind.
Breathing using this method is almost entirely by means of the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. The muscles of the thorax are hardly used. If the lower abdomen is allowed to fill out, the diaphragm is lowered, the thoracic cavity is enlarged, and air is taken into the lungs. When the abdominal muscles contract, the contents of the abdomen are pushed up, which in turn forces the diaphragm up, reducing the volume of the thoracic cavity and expelling air from the lungs. The slow, sustained exhalation adopted is produced so that it opposes the action of the abdominal muscles, which are trying to push air out of the lungs
This opposition generates a mild state of tension in the abdominal muscles, and the maintenance of this state of tension is important.
Here's how to begin….lie down on your back, in a comfortable place, like the carpet in your living room or bedroom, with your knees bent, and your hands splayed out, palms upward, arms at 45 degrees downwards from the shoulder.
Just relax for a few minutes, breath normally and slowly become conscious of the way you are breathing. The second you become conscious of the way you are breathing – your breathing will slow down.
Now.. place your hands, fingertip to fingertip on a central point about 2 inches below your navel.
When you next breathe in, push gently against your fingertips at that point, as you do so.
You may find this a little difficult, at first, as your normal breathing in point, is probably in your chest area, or, at best, just below your sternum.
Relax your shoulders and breathe in pushing up against your fingers that are touching that point in your lower belly.
You will feel, as you practise, that the breathing point comes down, until eventually, it resides permanently at that point just about 2 inches below your navel, called the Tanden.
Once you have got the hang of it, you will know it is right, because breathing becomes such a pleasure!
Now you will need to work on the rhythm.
Still lying on your back, (because it the easiest position to practise this breathing method as there is little or no gravitational pull), try this exercise - breathe in for 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds and breathe out for a controlled 10 seconds. If this is difficult at first, try to breathe in for 3 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and breathe out for 6 seconds. Eventually you will be able to achieve 5, 5 and 10 easily.
This is the basis for establishing a breathing rhythm, because it makes you focus your attention completely, which is exactly what we want you to achieve.
Think about it, you are now consciously breathing in and out very deeply 3 or 4 times a minute, as opposed to possibly 15 times of normal, shallow or unconscious breathing.
This means that you are oxygenating your blood over a wider area of your lungs, at this time, the first energy transaction, which, in turn, means you are giving yourself more energy.
As you get better at it, you may be able to take 1 breath per minute!
Caution: Try not to let your lower abdominal area collapse uncontrollably at all during the entire breathing rhythm.
Once you have mastered the basic breathing method for deep relaxation in a supine position, try the same exercise standing up.
Place your feet about one to two feet apart and slightly bend your knees, relax you buttocks and push your pelvis a little forward, raise your upper chest a little and tuck your chin in gently, allowing your arms to hang by your side, with your shoulders completely relaxed.
Now focus on your lower abdomen (remember, about 2 inches below your navel) and begin to breath in exactly the same manner as above.
Once you can accomplish this in a standing position, you will be able to do it anywhere, provided your back is straight – sitting at a desk, driving your car, standing, walking or watching your favourite TV programme.
You will also notice that it has an immediate calming effect on your emotions, as this method helps you to breathe easier, slower, smoother, deeper, longer, wider and fuller.
Improves compliance: The measurement of the ability of the lung to stretch, and hysteresis: the difference between inspiratory & expiratory curves.
Helps reduce rapid pulse rate and/or blood pressure.
Improves both restrictive and obstructive respiration.
Drives breathing more into lower torso, front, sides and back.
Helps expand the “bellows” breath for voice to eventually become more resonant with words more clear and easy to recognise.
Overall body is more relaxed and/or energized.
Helps reduce the amount of air trapped in the airways and lungs.
Helps reduce the amount of mucous trapped in the airways.
Enhances ALL physical activities including yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, aerobics, dancing, running, walking, swimming and more.