Take a deep breath. Now take another. Let your chest expand up, let your ribs expand out to the sides. Take another deep breath. You feel better, right? Simple. Even with just two or three deep breaths, your body is more calm, more energized. Breathing is great, isn’t it?
At Blossom Water, we are always looking for simple healthy life choices and natural ways to feel good about your body and your life. Exercise, good nutrition, hydration, companionship, gratitude are all part of the list of factors contributing to overall health and wellness. As it turns out, breathing tops the list!
Earlier this month, we looked at the benefits nasal breathing. These week, we look at deep breathing in general. The American Institute of Stress tells us that deep breathing reduces the damaging effects of stress by eliciting the relaxation response:
- Your metabolism decreases
- Your heart beats slower and your muscles relax
- Your breathing becomes slower
- Your blood pressure decreases
- Your levels of nitric oxide are increased
“The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused…Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”
Get comfy, here are some techniques you can do anywhere:
Belly Breath – This one works best when lying down. Lie on your back, place one hand lightly on your belly. Breathe intentionally into your belly, so much so that it lifts your hand up and down. Go slow.
Focused Breath – Close your eyes (unless you’re driving or otherwise need to keep your eyes open). Bring your attention to your breath. Notice it naturally moving your body as you inhale and exhale. Take several conscious breaths. Now imagine that each inhale fills your body with a sense of calm and peacefulness. Take several breaths in this way. Keep imagining calm entering your body. Now imagine that your exhale carries away any stress.
Relaxing Breath – 4 – 7 – 8 – In this technique you will count the length of each breath and the space between each breath. Take a full exhale. Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of 4. Hold your breath to the count of 7. Exhale to the count of 8. Now repeat this cycle. This relaxing breath technique is particularly good at night time if you are having trouble sleeping.
How does it work?
“Deep breathing increases activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest and digest system. It slows the heart rate and increases digestion by relaxing the gastrointestinal tract.
Breathing more deeply also allows for more carbon dioxide to enter your blood, which quiets down parts of the brain, like the amygdala, that handle your anxiety response. More carbon dioxide also helps synchronize your heartbeat and breathing.” (https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/mind/stress/why-deep-breathing-makes-you-feel-so-chill)