What if creating a deliberate pattern of breathing could make your body feel and operate a certain way?
Every day we unconsciously supply oxygen to our body through our breath but very few of us are aware of our breath or practice intentional breathing to unlock the true potential of our health. The ancient Yogi’s said, ‘we come into this world with a certain number of breaths. We can either take them quickly and live a short life, or we can take them slowly and deeply and live a long life’.
To better understand this concept, it is important to understand the effect that breathing has on our heart and the supply of blood around our body. Each beat of our heart is a result of the interplay between two parts of your autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic, also known as the flight or fight response. And the parasympathetic, which we call rest and digest.
The sympathetic system is our protective instinct responsible for accelerating your heart rate and pushing blood to your defensive muscles protecting you from any danger. The parasympathetic is the opposite, it seeks to slow your heart rate down to use all of your energy to optimise your immune system, to detoxify and digest your food.
Unfortunately for the majority of the population, we are stuck in sympathetic overdrive, unable to turn the flight or fight switch off. Our bodies can only deal with such an anxious state for so long before the consequences take their toll. Research has shown a link between sympathetic overdrive and such conditions as; IBS, low back pain, depression, anxiety, acid reflux, sleep disorders and migraines.
Diaphragmatic Breathing is a side-effect free drug that allows you to enter inside yourself and switch off this sympathetic overdrive and turn on your parasympathetic nervous system, helping combat such conditions.
Following a simple, yet intentional breathing pattern will help calm the nervous system down before allowing rest and digest to switch on.
The next time you feel the sympathetic system taking over, practice 5 minutes of intentional breathing. Following a pattern of 4:4:4, simply inhale through your nose into your belly for 4 seconds, hold for 4, then exhale for 4 seconds through your nose.
Max Strom, mindfulness and yoga teacher said, “some doors only open from the inside, breath is a way to open this door”.
How to practice Diaphragmatic Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing uses an important muscle called the diaphragm to fill and empty your lungs. When you breath the diaphragm will fill and empty your lungs.
Using your diaphragm to breathe is one of the most efficient methods possible because it requires less work from your body than breathing from your chest.
Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees bent and your head supported. You can also lay in a recliner, just be comfortable. If laying down, you can use a pillow under your knees to support your legs. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. You will then feel your diaphragm move as you breathe.
With an awareness on the space below both of your hands, breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain still.
Gently tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. Your hand on your chest must remain still.
If using Diaphragmatic Breathing for releasing emotions[i]:
As you breathe in, say “I can release the emotion” (anger, sadness, fear) or on the breath out say “I am breathing out the negative belief” (I annoyed myself, an idiot, etc) “I can breathe out the belief etc..”
[i] Dr Sandy Litt https://sandylitt.com/