“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
The way that we breathe has a huge role to play in our wellbeing and a big effect on how we feel. Practising breath techniques has been proven to help to reduce the effects of stress. Our natural way of breathing is energising and grounding, contributing to the body’s health on many levels.
Here are some breath practices that can help you to calm your mind, increase your ability to focus, and boost your immune system.
It is quite normal to have other thoughts arise whilst you are doing the practices, or that you get distracted or even zone out completely. This is all normal and doesn’t matter. Simply try to bring your awareness back to your breath as often as you need to.
For many reasons we can often adopt unhealthy breath patterns where we move away from the body’s most effective method of breathing.
Developing a restricted breath pattern starts to create a detrimental effect on our wellbeing and becomes part of many other factors that keep us from optimal health.
One of the restrictive patterns we can develop is a shallow, upper chest breath. This has a number of negative effects on our overall health, and when this happens we are likely to suffer from neck and shoulder tension, tiredness, and eventually headaches and a lack of concentration.
In this video, you will identify what your natural breath pattern currently is.
My tip – if you find it difficult to identify your breath pattern sitting up try it laying down instead.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
Thich Nthat Hanh
Diaphragmatic breathing is the body’s natural most optimal breath pattern.
Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing
the body’s most efficient way of breathing, so more energy
the massaging effect from the correct diaphragmatic movement on the surrounding organs optimises their health and functioning
reduces tension in the lower back, neck, and shoulders
grounding and centering
calms mental and emotional stress
switches on the body’s relaxation response of rest and digest mode
My tip – you might find this practice easier laying down. It is also a very good one to practice if you are struggling to sleep at night.
Full Yogic Breath
‘In this very breath that we now take lies the secret that all great teachers try to tell us.’
Ultimately, when we breathe in our most effective natural way there is a natural expansion of the belly and the rib cage with a slight rise of the upper chest throughout the inhalation and the reverse through the exhalation. Once you are familiar with the previous diaphragmatic breathing technique you might like to try this Full Yogic Breath practice which incorporates all three areas of focus in each breath.
My tip – Initially the breath may feel a bit disjointed as you try to focus on all three areas. With practice it will feel smoother and ‘one breath’ again. The breath doesn’t have to be any longer than your usual one so avoid any strain in the breath.
Here’s another useful breath practice…
HA! Breath Technique This next simple breath technique is for when you feel tired, fed up, frustrated, bored, or have lost focus. It is also a good substitute for caffeine so if you are trying to cut down then try this breath practice instead of reaching for your next coffee! It will help you to get rid of stagnant energy and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to go again.
How Do You Do It? Simply take a deep inhale through the nose and a strong exhale through the mouth.
Repeat as many times as you need.
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