“Breathing well means breathing more slowly and deeply. Relax, feel your breathing, and breathe comfortably. Once aware, it naturally becomes deeper and slower” Ilchi Lee
Breathing…….it just happens right? Well yes, its true, breathing is an unconscious aspect of our being yet our breath is so special because we can override that unconscious factor and bring about control to our breath. We often take this amazing gift for granted; this one thing that truly connects us to this life right now! Maybe we should begin to give it a little more thought, attention and love.
Why? If we can achieve calmness with our breath this can impact the rest of our nervous system. Breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, stress, insomnia, immune system response, alertness, concentration, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit disorder.
A simple way to connect to your breath is by practising Coherent Breathing. This involves taking long slow breaths at a rate of about five per minute. Many of us breathe too shallow and too quickly, with very little awareness. Coherent breathing, described as a therapeutic breath technique helps to calm the body and mind through its effect on the autonomic nervous system. It is a simple and easy way to reduce stress and induce calm when feeling anxious and is a lovely way to return you to centre.
With coherent breathing, the goal is to extend the length of both the inhale and exhale to around six seconds, perhaps even longer if you are practised in breath control techniques. The main thing is to never force the breath and to always breathe through the nose. The nose is optimal for breathing as it warms and filters the air and releases Nitrous oxide; a vasodilator, which can improve oxygen circulation in our bodies.
I invite you to begin by choosing a comfortable seated position that allows you to lift your spine, relax your shoulders and open your chest. This could be seated on the floor, cross legged or kneeling or sat on a chair with feet grounded on the floor. Close your eyes.
Bring awareness to your natural breath. Allow the inhale to flow in and the exhale to release. Take a moment to place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Connect to the subtle movements in both your belly and chest. As you inhale feeling your belly expand and your chest rise, as you exhale feel the chest relax, belly release. Allow your breath to flow smoothly and steadily in a rhythmic manner, feeling with each breath that you gain a little more control over your breath.
Begin to count the length of each inhale and exhale to increase your awareness of your breath pattern. Then…..
· Breath in for three seconds and then out for three seconds. Do this for one minute
· Repeat, but extend your inhales and exhales to four seconds
· Repeat again, extending further to five seconds
· Repeat again, extending further to six seconds
This breath is such a simple yet powerful technique that can be practised subtly anywhere. Try incorporating 5 mins in the morning and 5 mins in the evening and anytime in between to bring a feeling of balance. Take this sense of a calm and quiet into your day and with regular practice you will find yourself becoming a much calmer, relaxed and happier being.