Just take a breath and count to 10. It’s what we’re told so often to try and calm us down before rushing to make a judgement or losing our cool, but why do people say it and can breathing really help?
RESCUE Remedy® has teamed up with Neil Shah from The Stress Management Society for more information.
So, Neil, why is breathing deeply important for helping with daily stresses?
“Oxygen provides energy to all parts of the body. The rate at which we inhale and exhale is controlled by the respiratory centre within the medulla oblongata in the brain. Interestingly this is also the part of the brain that instigates the stress response. The benefits of breathing correctly can lead to an upsurge in energy and relax your body and mind as you are getting more oxygen in. Even under normal circumstances, taking a full deep breathe by itself is relaxing. However, most of us are used to ‘shallow breathing’; using only 25-30 per cent of our lung capacity.
Here are some different breathing techniques for you to try out...
1. Diaphragm breathing
(what we call baby’s breath)
When babies are born they are not taught how to breathe. They just do what comes naturally. I would like you to be aware of your natural baby breath.
2. Resistance breathing
- Sit or stand with your feet firmly flat on the floor
- Now imagine a triangle that begins at your belly button; the other two corners of the triangle are on your hips. Inside that triangle there is a ball or a balloon.
- When you take a breath in, visualise the breath slowly inflating the ball or balloon. At the top of the breath hold for a few seconds and then release slowly, deflating the ball or balloon and pulling your navel in to your spine
- Repeat this a few minutes and notice what changes you are aware of.
(or alternate nostril breathing )
Are you a left nostril or right nostril breather? This is an ancient brain balancing breathing technique that is designed to produce optimum functioning in both sides of the brain (it has two hemispheres).
3. Energising breathing
- Place a finger under your nostrils and exhale through your nose. One nostril will be working harder than the other. This changes according to activity and it swaps thought the day
- Close your right nostril using the back of your left thumb.
- Inhale from your left nostril to the count of four.
- Let go of the right nostril and gently pinch the left nostril with your left ring finger and hold for the count of 16.
- Exhale through your right nostril for eight counts.
- Repeat on the other side, swapping over fingers.
(what we call bellows breath)
This exercise is called ‘bellows breath’ as it mimics the working of bellows that used to fan a fire. When practising this exercise be ready for an energising workout as it is the ultimate exercise for energy and power.
- Sit up in a comfortable position with your feet flat on the floor
- Stretch your spine upwards, lengthen your neck and subtly bring your chin back and in, like a soldier at attention. This will align the spine with the back of your head.
- Close your eyes and relax your stomach muscles.
- Now begin to breathe as forcefully as comfortable through the nose with equal emphasis on the inhalation and exhalation. The diapghram should expand and contract in conjunction with your breathing. The pace should be about one second for inhalation and about the same for exhalation.
- Do a round of 10 repetitions and then inhale completely and hold your breath for 1-5 seconds and then exhale completely.
- This completes round one so take a short break.
- Slowly work your way up to doing five rounds.
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