I am always in search of simple ways to improve my life. What could be more effortless than breathing for good health?
I remember my cross country coach in 9th grade teaching us that a way to avoid cramps when running is to breathe your “stomach” full of air. We used to practice pushing our core out as we drew air in and pulling our core in as we breathed out. It worked.
In my hot yoga class we begin with an exercise where we fold our hands together under our chin and breathe in tilting our heads back, hold the breath at the top and slowly release bringing our head back down. It is calming, but challenging because the way we normally breathe is different, often more shallow and rapidly.
Why is it important to breath right?
Our pace of life is so fast. When we breathe deeply and slowly we are sending a message to our brain to slow down. Breathing deeply stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, which relaxes us, decreases our heart rate, opens our blood vessels and releases calming hormones. It also brings more oxygen to our bloodstream and brain allowing for more energy and better focus. It is essentially using our physiology, our body, to affect our mind. Interesting since usually our mind is telling our body what to do.
What is the right way to breathe?
The right way to breathe is slowly and deeply, from your core, like my coach taught us. Breathing exercises include holding the breath at the top for a few seconds and then releasing. It is something that you can easily start by doing a few times a day, in the car, at your desk, wherever you are able to focus. Like anything else, the more you do it, the more natural and unconscious it becomes.
Being more in tune with my breathing helps me be more in tune with my body, and it fits into my busy schedule. Simple is good.