The Power of Breath
“When life is foggy, path is unclear and mind is dull, remember your breath.
It has the power to give you the peace.”
-Amit Ray, Beautify Your Breath – Beautify Your Life
Have you ever found yourself not being able to catch your breath or even completely holding it at times? Have these situations intensified in recent weeks and months? Do you currently find yourself with symptoms that include:
Difficulty focusing attention
Digestive problems /Irritable bowel
Neck and shoulder pain
I realize that these symptoms can stem from a number of issues that sit on a vast scale of severity. However, these symptoms also coincide with the everyday act of using a shallow, quick automatic breath from the upper chest. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not here to tell you that there is a right and a wrong way to breathe. I mean, breath is breath right? We haven’t died yet, so obviously we have it handled.
However with a little practice, awareness and focus you could reap some BIG benefits within your body that could include:
Fuel energy production
Improved focus and concentration
Increased relaxation and calmness
Reduced tension and anxiety
Strengthened immune system
Improved bowel function
Lower blood pressure
Increased metabolism, aiding in digestion and weight loss
Deep abdominal breathing can do this. It increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of calmness in the body. Each breath we take is a connection of the mind and body. With focused breathing, it can become a natural channel into our emotions and well-being. Our breath, so ingrained in us as we live, yet we are not always aware of the abundance it provides.
This breathing can be practiced anywhere, at any time to immediately bring yourself into a more relaxed, calm state, better able to stay in control and respond to stressful situations. You may also find that the more you practice deep breathing, the more accustomed your body will become to it. In time, the deeper abdominal breath will become the norm. All you need is five to ten minutes a day. You are already breathing. Just give it a little attention and you might be pleasantly surprised with what you get in return. Sit up straight and comfortably in a straight-back chair, feet firmly planted on the floor or on a firm cushion sitting cross-legged on the floor, shoulders back, back straight, chin slightly in. You can also practice by lying flat on your back. Just make sure to have the spine straight so the air can flow easily through the body.
Inhale and exhale through the nose. As you slowly inhale, allow the abdomen to fully expand like a balloon. This may feel awkward at first, as you may be used to more shallow, upper chest breathing. If you like, you can place your hands on you abdomen to the feel movement of expansion and contraction until you get the hang of it.
Fill the air move deep into the lungs causing the diaphragm to expand. As you exhale and empty the lungs completely and feel the abdomen contract. Again, slowly and deeply inhale, filling up the lungs and, abdomen going out, followed by a long, full exhalation, emptying the lungs, the abdomen going back in. Nothing needs to be forced or exaggerated unless it helps with the concept.
Can doing something as simple as focused breathing really have such an impactful effect on the body? The only way to find out is to take the time and try it. What do you have to lose?
Tami Harris, CLC, LMT
Tami specializes in coaching those who have gone or are currently going through major life transitions or are looking to add purpose and meaning to their life. She provides support and tools to assist them in the process.