Welcome back to our article series on mindfulness and wellbeing! In our previous post, we described some of the ways in which breathing impacts our everyday activity, and this time we’ll be sharing some practical tips on how to harness the power of breathing.
Let’s jump in![KP1] Stop reading for a moment, close your eyes and watch your breathing. Don't force anything, just observe. Notice if you are breathing:
- Nose or mouth?
Nose breathing allows you to humidify and purify the inhaled air, which makes it much more pleasant for the lungs. Breathing through the nose does not dry out the mouth, which is more beneficial for oral hygiene and maintaining the correct pH level. In addition, chronic mouth breathing can lead to malocclusion, meaning misaligned teeth.[KP2] [DM3] Few people other than doctors know that nitric oxide is produced in the nose, which has a significant impact on many processes in your body, including improving memory.
- Shallow or deep?
For both your physical and emotional health, the depth of your breathing is very important. Because the brain demands a large amount of oxygen, its optimal functioning is largely dependent on the quality of your breathing.
Deep breathing practiced daily introduces more oxygen and thus has a positive effect on the entire body. By increasing the level of oxytocin, dopamine and prolactin and lowering the level of cortisol, it restores the balance in the biochemistry of the brain and helps relieve stress and depression.
When you breathe consciously and deeply, you are more present here and now, and thus more fully involved in the activities you perform.
- Calm or nervous?
Calm and balanced breathing
It's the breath that breathes you. This may sound strange, but your body is good at inhaling and exhaling. However, if you live under stress and you don't give yourself time for good rest and relaxation, your breathing is disturbed as well as the work of your body. Consequently, when you get into the habit of daily conscious breathing, a lot will change in your life.
Just 5 minutes a few times a day is enough to feel the benefits of calm breathing. You can do it sitting down, with your back straight, or lying down. Focus on your breath and let it be as it is in the moment. Watch and let it gradually take control of your body. Do not block when it wants to take in more air and repeat this in subsequent breaths. It's your breath. Calm and measured.
Breathing may seem so simple to us that we don't need to pay attention to it, so some of us may not know that there are two types of breath:
- Are you breathing with your belly or breathing with your chest?
Chest breathing is a type of breathing in which the chest rises due to the tension of the intercostal muscles. Abdominal breathing requires the diaphragm to work. When taking in air, the lungs lower the diaphragm. It usually happens when we are relaxed. This is an automatic process that requires less effort than chest breathing.
Knowing how you already breathe, and regularly training your breathing, is the key to success. However, you can also breathe effectively, not only by practicing sports, but also by introducing breathing practices into your daily ritual. The following examples are recommended by experts and scientists and used in many parts of the world:
- Bastrika, or breathing exercises instead of espresso
Bastrika is a great breathing exercise that gives you energy and raises your blood pressure.
How to practice bastrika
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees soft, and pelvis gently swaying (with your legs acting as springs). As you inhale through your nose, lift your arms up, and as you exhale, clench your hands into fists and bring your elbows to your ribs. On the inhale, raise and open your hands again; on the exhale, clench your fists and pull your elbows down. Do three repetitions – 15 times each round.
- Hawaiian HA life breath technique
These breathing exercises are used to calm down and are useful when you are stressed, like when you come home after a hard day and would like to do something for yourself (3-5 minutes is enough for you).
How to do Hawaiian breathing exercises
Sit comfortably with your back straight, close your eyes and place your hand in the middle of your chest. Begin to breathe consciously, that is, direct your attention to the place where the hand is touching. Notice how the breath flows and the chest rises and falls. Just focus on that – don't speed up, don't slow down, just notice.
After about a minute of this observation, make a whispering sound “haaaaaa” with your exhalation (the exhalation should become slightly longer). This technique releases anger and tension that is often accumulated in the throat. After a few “haaas”, go back to your natural breathing, remove your hand, and open your eyes.
- A technique for relaxing with breath
This relaxation exercise is perfect for when you're nervous and have an important meeting or presentation ahead of you. You can do this in any position, and it only takes a few seconds.
How to do relaxing breathing exercises
As you inhale, tense your whole body very hard until it starts to shake, then exhale while relaxing all the muscles. Take a moment to observe how your breath flows now and… move to action.
And that's it for today when it comes to our daily breathing and ways to improve it. Now take a deep breath after reading this article and do something for yourself.
Thank you for your presence, and if you found the article interesting, please share your opinion as well as your techniques for a better life with breath.
https://catherinedowling.com/rebirthing-and-breathwork Accessed 1.08.2018