Breathing is often under looked in wellbeing, as it is something we do every day without thinking about it. Most of us, however, don’t fully breathe which effects everything in life from our oxygen levels, detoxification, stress, metabolism, satiety and digestion. When we breathe deeply and fully it helps us deal creatively and constructively with everything life throws at us. It also helps us feel relaxed, more balanced, and connected. More importantly, it supplies our organs with much needed oxygen and removes toxins from our body. Our mind and breath are also linked. Have you noticed when we feel nervous and agitated our breathing becomes small and sharp?
When we breathe fully and calmly, it ignites our parasympathetic nervous system which means our heart rate drops, our blood pressure lowers, and our body is put into a state of calm and healing. It also releases endorphins, improves sleep, happiness and decreases stress levels. Breathing deeply for just one minute can transform how we are feeling in any moment.
Breathing also impacts our metabolism, digestion and fullness signals. When we focus on breathing before and during meals and snacks, it enhances our digestion, satiety and nutrient absorption. So the deeper and slower we breathe, the more optimally our digestion can function, and the more in tune we can be with our body and fullness signals.
By learning how to breathe, we will become healthier, stronger, calmer and energised.
HOW TO EXPERIENCE A FULL BREATH.
Here is a quick guide to taking a full breath. Give it a try, especially in any stressful situations.
• Sit, stand or lay down (whatever feels most comfortable)
• Put one hand on your belly
• Through the nose, inhale slowly as you expand the belly
• Take a slight pause.
• Exhale deeply and contract your belly
The power of breathing is certainly not a new concept. It is an integral part of many practices, particularly yoga, meditation, swimming and even childbirth! Breathing isn’t all about relaxation and meditation either. It can be fun and energising too.
BREATHE FOR ENERGY
Here is a fun and energetic breathing exercise.
• Begin standing.
• Raise your arms high above your head.
• Start jumping up and down.
• As you jump up, inhale quickly.
• As you land, exhale through the mouth- let everything go with a big “huh”!
• Start with thirty seconds and continue to increase each week
One of my other favourite breathing exercises is the Lion’s Breath. This is also a great one for stress as it relieves tension by stretching our entire face, including the jaw and tongue. You may feel a bit silly doing this one, but it just adds to the effect!
HOW TO TAKE A LION’S BREATH.
• Sit crossed legged or with your ankles under your butt.
• Place your hands on your knees. Straighten your arms and extend your fingers.
• Inhale through your nose and expand the belly.
• Exhale strongly through the mouth, making a "ha" sound. As you exhale, open your mouth wide and stick your tongue as far out as possible towards your chin.
• Inhale, returning to your normal face.
• Repeat 4-6 times.
BREATHING AND FEELING FULLNESS
When we eat quickly, are stressed, watch TV, read, or do work during mealtimes it is hard for us to hear when we are full. Being present and relaxed before meals, as well as taking a couple of minutes to pause and practise mindful breathing during our meal, means we can tune in to the signs and signals of our body, and connect with ourselves and the food in front of us. Start by taking 5-10 deep breaths before meals and snacks. This calms our digestion down and gets us in the present moment for the meal experience.
AND HERE ARE 5 FUN BREATHING FACTS THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW!
• Our breath is an indicator of our mood and our mood is an indicator of our breath. This means that if we change how we breathe we can change how we feel in any moment.
• Our lungs are MASSIVE. If they were laid out flat they would cover a tennis court.
• Breathing through our mouth over a long period of time can shrink our jaw.
• We naturally change sides in our sleep around every 30 minutes to maintain the balance of breath through our nostrils!
• We can increase our lifespan by breathing longer and slower