What miracle gives us this?
It's a resource we can call upon to instantly calm and sooth us preventing us from feeling overwhelmed.
Optimal health with a better relationship to life’s stresses.
It keeps us feeling and looking younger than our chronological age.
And yields success if you know what to do with it - when you’re trying to curb a craving?
And there’s quite a lot to learn about this seemingly simple act of inhaling and exhaling!
We know if we get it wrong how adversely it can affect us.
Our lives today – fast paced, hunched over laptops, fretty...
Many of us breathe way too high into the chest, too shallow and fast. Imagine a few years of this and no wonder we get headaches, tight traps, (those shoulder ridges), hypertension (high blood pressure), panic attacks, and eventually possible heart disease (as a result of those issues from the list). The body will register bad breathing as a sign of 'fight or flight' so cortisol (the stress hormone) levels will also rise and that can lead to an entirely new plethora of symptoms: Suppressed immunity, Hypertension, High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
Insulin resistance, Carbohydrate cravings, Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, Fat deposits on the face, neck, and belly, Reduced libido, and Bone loss - I'm probably stressing you out reading this!
Actually, as you read this now – straighten up and see where your shoulders are. Often: even if you THINK they’re where they should be – breathe in deep, breathe out and let them go! (ideally drawing the scapula together with the out breath but without letting the ribs flare up). each time you do this allow them to sink a few more mm's.
In my work teaching Freestyle Fitness Yoga, Freestyle Pilates, Brain Fit and the Gym (weights), the breath is examined, and all require different methods depending on what we need from it.
So in Pilates we work with the diaphragm and lightly contracting the deep transverse muscles (the ‘core’) to ‘contain’ the stomach contents, and protect the back (the internal corset is strengthened). If we work with the Pelvic floor the magic happens at the end of the out breath, when the PF is most relaxed.
In Yoga we work in symphony with the poses, and evoke relaxation, allowing the stretch to take best effect. Belly breathing here will work wonders to give an almost meditative effect (my Yoga is more physical and less spiritual but it is still 'me time' and quiet time out, so lets work with that too)!
With weights we work with the contractive (concentric) phase of the exercise to avoid stressing the pelvic floor, or creating hernias from too much intra-abdominal pressure, but also to refrain from 'de-training' the abdominal muscles. (imagine pushing the belly OUT as you do a lat pull down - disaster)!!
In BrainFit we work with the parasympathetic system to allow neurological changes: fabulous for mindfulness – allowing you the pause you need to make good choices through being calm and centred (helping to combat the rash decision making connected with cravings, addictions OR even managing the symptoms you get from abstaining).
Here’s a take home tip next time you feel het up. This is perfect if you feel a headache coming on, are just about to have an interview, or just want to take time out from a stressy situation. I call it 478 breathing and it’s one of the types we use in BrainFit:
Inhale over 4 counts. HOLD for 7, Then exhale over 8. It’ll really encourage the OUT breath (the toxic, Carbon dioxide one which is a metabolic waste product!), and once you master it - it makes you inhale to the belly as you only have 4 beats to do it in!
Try it and see how it calms you.