Learn To Correct Your Breathing and See What Correct Breathing Will do for You
The way you breathe has a huge impact on your stress levels and can do a great deal to make you more or less stressed.
Your breathing is deeply connected to your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
Breathing regulates the release of hormones and neurotransmitters such as cortisol, testosterone and adrenaline.
When you are stressed, your breathing quickens and becomes shallower. When you are relaxed, you breathe more deeply and fully.
This correlation works both ways though – so slowing your breathing will make you less stressed and vice versa.
The key is to make sure that when you are relaxing, you are able to breathe as deeply and fully as possible. Here are a few ways to do this.
Right now, you are most probably breathing wrong. Most of us don’t give much thought to the way we breathe and as a result, we probably use bad habits.
To find out if you are breathing incorrectly, place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach.
Now breath normally and make a note of which hand moves first – and whether both move at all.
What you might find is that the chest moves first and the stomach moves ever-so-slightly afterwards.
Unfortunately, this is wrong and it won’t allow you maximise your intake of breath.
Instead, you should breathe first by allowing your stomach to distend, which will in turn open up the abdominal cavity.
You should then breathe so that your lungs fill into this space and then move your chest. This not only allows you to bring in much more oxygen, making you feel much healthier; it also trains your transverse abdominis muscles and encourages better posture.
When you look at a baby or an animal, you will see that this is how they breathe naturally. So what went wrong for us?
It comes down to posture again – that and the fact that we spend so long sitting (like when in front of a computer) hunched over and unable to breathe from the stomach.
Try to remember to do this. It is not easy but that is just one more reason that mindfulness training is so valuable – Mindfulness will make you more mindful of the way you’re breathing.
During actual meditation, you will want to breathe as deeply and as efficiently as possible. One way to do this is a Yoga technique called ‘equal breathing’.
This involves breathing in and out through the nose whilst counting the seconds for both the inhalation and exhalation making sure that they are equal.
Ideally, you’re trying to breathe in and out for a good 3 seconds or more, which will allow you to completely fill and them completely empty the lungs, refreshing all that important oxygen in your body.
Use this at the start of your mindfulness meditation. It will help you to become more relaxed and more focused and will help you improve the way you breathe in the long term too.