There is something that we do approximately 25,000 times a day that we don’t even think about – BREATHE.
It’s the very first thing that we do when we are born and it will be the last thing we do when we die. Yet so many of us don’t even pass a thought to our breath, or how we breathe.
Unless of course, you’re out with friends and someone’s just cracked a really funny joke right about the time you’ve put a mouthful of food in. You’ve been enjoying the chat and laughter and suddenly – you feel the grip of death as you cough and splutter half your food, not so gracefully, over the table.
Right then you feel like you can’t breathe, your body becomes consumed with survival.
All it needs is oxygen – so you cough, splutter – you barely notice you’re in company. Until finally you are able to take a much-needed gasp of air and things start to slow down and you realise that everyone is staring at you.
The urgency of needing breath in that moment holds a powerful reminder of the significance of our breath.
Unfortunately, we’re not that lucky to be reminded every day of the urgent need to breathe and bring oxygen into our body.
Here are 3 KEY ELEMENTS to breathing properly:
1. Posture – so many of us are now spending more and more time sitting at desks or working on computers and laptops. Having the correct posture is really important to breathing fully and deeply. Sit up with your chest lifted, shoulders relaxed down.
2. Use the diaphragm – Breathing into the belly is key to getting a full deep breath. Keeping the chest lifted will help to open up the belly area. The diaphragm can more easily move and allow for a deeper and more satisfying breath.
3. Nostril breathing – breathing through the nose helps to regulate the temperature of the breath and will stimulate the nervous system to reduce stress.
By simply breathing properly during the day will reduce anxiety and stress. By breathing deeply, filling our lungs up fully, you can increase the oxygen to your brain and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which will promote a state of calmness. Like filling up a balloon – if it doesn’t get enough air – it’s just really sad!
When we breathe consciously, we increase the amount of oxygen in our body. We need oxygen to burn the fuel (the sugars and fatty acids) in our cells. In yoga we call this prana – it’s the energy or vital life-giving force that produces energy for our body. The oxygen is drawn into the lungs and then transported by red blood cells throughout the entire body which are used to generate energy.
I remember hiking Longs Peak in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado with my husband. We were about 12,000ft up with another 2,000ft to climb. The air suddenly changed. We hadn’t acclimatised to the altitude and found ourselves at the mercy of the thinner air. Not enough oxygen in our lungs meant we couldn’t walk very fast. Every couple of steps we had to stop to take deep breaths. We climbed the last 2,000ft breathing like Darth Vader (my son would love that!). It’s still worth the climb, if you’re ever visiting.
You don’t have to climb to dizzying heights to experience a lack of oxygen. Sitting slumped over a computer or phone, blocks much needed oxygen which affects our brain and emotions. Productivity drops and so does your mood.
Yoga is known for its’ power to release stress and improve health and vitality. The number one key to this is awareness of the breath. We move our bodies which grow stronger and the stretching helps too, but it’s the breath that will take you deeper. The depth to which you can breathe is directly related to the health of your mind. Practicing yoga we use the power of the breath to raise our consciousness, to improve health and vitality.
Here’s 5 QUICK TIPS to start your day in an RELAXED way
(and you can do this in under 3 minutes) –
Do these before you get out of bed:
1. Turn off your phone – in fact leave it downstairs. Don’t fire up the stress signals before you even take your first conscious breath of the day.
2. Drink a glass of water (bring it up with you the night before). It’s a great way to kick start your digestive system, we tend to get dehydrated and then we add caffeine into our already taxed system. So, start with water, to increase energy and help detox the body.
3. Stretch – yes, a good old-fashioned stretch – do we even have time for this anymore? Go ahead and take a decent conscious stretch. Arms up over the head and feet stretching away from you – try rotating the wrists and ankles (yummy juice for the joints). With this movement you will stimulate the airways to naturally take in a deep breath.
4. Smile – even if you don’t feel like it – go ahead and smile. Your body will adjust to that smile and your energy will naturally lift. Don’t have anything to smile about? – remember that time you almost choked? Well, you didn’t, you’re still alive – now SMILE.
5. BREATHE – take 5 deep conscious breaths. Put one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Breathe deeply in through the nose and feel your belly expand into your hand and continue breathing until you feel your other hand lifting. Then exhale let you belly relax then your chest relax.
Each time you inhale be conscious of allowing the gift of each breath to bring healing energy to every cell of your body. Exhale and repeat.
If you’re struggling with energy or focus during the day – then take a break and try breathing 5 long deep conscious breaths – bringing the arms up over the head will also stimulate blood flow into the brain.
For a full description on how to breathe a long deep breath CLICK HERE
“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace”
Breathe, Laugh, Love
Lisa x x
P.S. If you struggle with posture of don’t know if you are breathing properly you can check out a full video instruction on Long Deep Breathing at LISA BURKE YOGA SOUL