Have you ever watched a baby sleep?
Their bellies rise and fall as they breathe in and out. This is how we are all supposed to breathe. Many of us, because of stress, fear or worry, have shallow breathing and inefficient chest breathing. When we breathe shallow less oxygen is available to the body which sets up a chain reaction of physical events including elevated blood pressure and heart rate. Oxygen is converted into energy in the body. We feel sluggish, tired, and lethargic.
There are hundreds of breathing exercises and techniques, many dating back thousands of years.
This article is the first of a series that will teach you some easy techniques you will be able to incorporate into your life. For more advanced breathing techniques you should find a qualified teacher. Advanced breath work can increase endorphins, heat up the body, boost metabolism, give a sense of euphoria and may reverse disease. By the way, did you know cancer hates oxygen? Extensive and advanced breath-work may prevent and in some cases reverse cancer!
Breathing Exercise #1: Low Abdominal/Diaphragm Breathing
Technically, this is how we should always be breathing, naturally. Unfortunately, for many of us, we have forgotten how to do this. Let’s relearn how to breathe!
- Sit comfortably or lie on your back.
- Place your hands on your belly button.
- The mouth should be closed, relax the face and jaw.
- Notice the tip of your tongue naturally touches the upper palette.
- Begin to breathe in through the nose and bring the breath to the lower belly.
- Allow your belly to rise with the inhalation.
- The breath should not be forced.
- Exhale through the nose in a relaxed manner. Place your attention on slowing down and lengthening the exhale.
- Allow your belly to fall moving naturally in towards the spine on the exhalation.
- Do not force the exhalation.
This breath allows the body to naturally become energized during the inhalation, and as you exhale, you are releasing toxins. You will improve blood pressure, heart rate, immune system, brain waves, digestion, and it can help you fall asleep.
As you practice, if any of the above steps feel uncomfortable or painful, modify to fit your needs. I can teach you, but I cannot physically feel what you are feeling. Listen to your body and adjust as needed.
This is your practice.
Also, remember to not force the breath, allow it to naturally move in and out through the nose in a relaxed manner. Over time and with practice it will become longer and deeper.
Start with five minutes and do it several times a day. This also works well as a stress management tool when:
- Waiting in traffic or in a line (ATM, grocery check-out, customer service, etc.).
- Before starting a difficult or challenging task.
- Before a meeting or special event.
- When speaking in public.
- When frustrated or annoyed.
How many times should you breathe in a minute? About 10 – that’s one breath (in and out) every six seconds. Less than that and you are an EXPERT.
You will find the more you practice the longer and deeper your breath will get. Some people, when completely relaxed only breathe four to six times each minute! The slower you can bring the breath down the better.
Tortoises breathe one to two times per minute and they usually live well over 100 years. Ancient Chinese masters revere the tortoise because the tortoise knows how to regulate the breath. This is a key to longevity. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the lower abdominal area is one of the three treasures, known as Jing. When you breathe from the lower abdominal area you are strengthening the Jing. This strengthens and energizes the physical body.
By incorporating this breathing technique into your daily life, you will begin to notice the little stressors becoming easier to manage.
You will feel better about your day, situations that arise will not seem to bother you as much, and you will not become obsessed with them.
I’d love for you to write a comment on this post and share your experiences with this exercise. Did you feel different after practicing the technique? Did it help you to manage your day more gracefully? Did it help you relax and calm the mind?
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series next week where you will learn an incredible breathing exercise to balance your mind, relax your body, and recharge your spirit.
Want to learn, specifically, how breathing exercises can prevent disease? I invite you to grab your free copy of my book, “Boost Your Immune System.”
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