Breathing is a process that, in the past, we have taken for granted – giving it little or no thought. But the way we breathe can profoundly affect our body, our mind and our feelings. By changing the frequency, the depth and the rhythm of our breathing, we can reduce our stress, increase our vitality and boost our immunity.
Dr Brown, at Columbia University, found that controlled breathing can help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression, anxiety.
Dr Kabat Zinn, internationally renowned for his work in mindfulness, found that focusing on the gentle breath alleviates tension, and pain, calms the body and eases the mind.
Consciously slowing our breathing pattern leads to improved relaxation and decreased anxiety. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to relax the bronchial tree, opening the airway so we can breathe easier.
Leslie Alderman, a therapist in NY encourages people to practice these breathing techniques:
Sit comfortably and focus on breathing in to the count of five. Pause. Exhale to the count of 6.
Repeat this for two to three minutes.
Do what is comfortable. The idea is to have you focus your mind on your breathing. If counting to five or six is difficult, try four and five.
Ahhhh…! How do you feel?
To perk up from a mid afternoon slump, stand tall, elbows bent, hands facing up. As you inhale, pull your elbows back continuing to hold your hold your palms straight up. Then exhale quickly, pushing your palms forward and turning them down while saying “ha” out loud.
Repeat this quickly about ten times.
Feel more energized? Great!
Dr Weitzberg at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden discovered the power of humming. He found that humming, helps circulate nitric rich air which protects the sinuses from infectious germs. According to Dr Ignarro at UCLA, the increased nitric acid we inhale with humming relaxes the airway for easier breathing, and opens the blood vessels for easier oxygen access.
So, try humming a few bars of your favorite songs on the radio while you drive.
Take some time each day to do some breathing exercises. You will be more relaxed, you will breathe easier, you will have more energy and you will stay healthier!