Have you found yourself holding your breath lately? I mean this figuratively and literally.
So many times this year I have actually subconsciously held my breath – in a grocery store if I felt it was too crowded, if someone stepped within my socially distanced bubble, as I worked through my emotions surrounding the social and political atmosphere of the presidential campaign and election, and especially as I contemplated what it would mean for our small business to be closed for months.
“BREATHE!”… I would remind myself. “Breathe!”
I knew deep breathing was one of the best ways to lower stress in my body. When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax, and your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, all decrease as well.
However, during our Personal Training conference back in March, I learned a bit more about the physical benefits of deep breathing – and the effect it can have on reducing chronic pain, helping people heal from injury, increasing core stability and even boosting your immune system and increasing your energy.
Here are two quick articles that expand upon the benefits:
Breathing Exercise: Try this:
- Get as comfortable as possible. If you are lying down, have a support a pillow under your head and knees. If you are sitting make sure your shoulders, head, and neck are supported against the back of the chair.
- Breathe in through your nose to completely expand your lungs and belly.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- As you breathe in, feel your belly rise and your chest expand. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
It can also be helpful to connect some intentional thoughts to your breaths. This is often referred to as breath focus. Here is one I use:
As I breathe in, I imagine that the air is filled with a sense of joy and peace (you can even assign a color to it if that helps you visualize). Try to feel it throughout your body.
As I breathe out, I imagine that the air leaving my body is taking with it my stress and worry.
I think to myself, “I breathe in joy and peace . . . I breathe out stress and worry.”
You can set your own intention – maybe it is pain you are trying to heal. Send your healing breaths to the area of pain.
If you can do breathing exercises like this for just 10 – 20 minutes a day and try to use this breathing movement pattern (full, deep breaths) throughout your daily activities – your body and mind will thank you.
Inhaaaallle . . . Exhaaallle . . .