Breathing is an essential component of life, but when things get stressful or chaotic beyond your limits, our breathing pattern can alter. This can exacerbate feelings of stress, worry, and anxiety. Taking control of your breath and encouraging a breathing technique can reduce these feelings and help restore a sense of calmness and relaxation.
Breathing exercises are also scientifically proven to:
Lower blood pressure, improve lung function, improve cardiovascular function, lower heart rate, & improve endurance performance. All from as little as practicing three times per week! To read more about Pilates breathing head here.
Why does it work?
Slowing your breathing down stimulates the parasympathetic system- the part of your nervous system responsible for calm, resting processes and our “rest and restore” response. Breathing techniques encourage us to slow down, become mindful and coordinate our breath with our movement. This focuses the mind as we learn to control the breath, and thus control the stress response. Greater stimulation of our parasympathetic system can also promote better sleep and minimise a build up of anxiety over time.
How do we practice breathing?
- Deep, full breathing
This one is simple.
Breathe in fully. Breathe out fully. Repeat.
Continue until you feel the sense of calmness you are searching for. It may help to place your hands on your lower ribcage/belly and feel the stomach rise and ribcage expand as you breathe in, and feel it deflate and come together as you breathe out.
- If you prefer having something to picture or focus on, imagine a square. Breathe in up one side. Breathe out along the next side. And continue moving around the square taking one breath per side.
- Look at your hand and spread your fingers wide. Inhale as you trace up one side of your finger, and exhale to come down the other side. Repeat for each finger. Inhaling up one side and exhaling down the other.
3. Nostril breathing
Use your finger or thumb to close one nostril (eg. right side). Breath in through the other (left side). Then switch and close this side (left) breathe out through the other (right). Continue to alternate breathing in through one nostril and out through the other.
Try implementing one of these exercises in to your day today, perhaps on the final push to finish work when things are building up, or maybe before you even begin your day and see if you can start off in a more calm, relaxed place to set the tone for your day.
I’d love to hear if you use these, and if they provide any benefit! Leave me a comment and let me know!