Friday, March 10

Friday Finds: Breath Better!

Today, we're talking diaphragmatic breathing & how to do it.

Call it "belly breathing," if you like. It's a method of deep breathing where you fill the lower portion of your lungs with air FIRST. 
Belly breathing helps lower stress or anxiety and sends higher levels of oxygen throughout the body, the lymph system & the brain.
I first learned the  diaphragmatic or "belly breathing" technique through a anxiety workbook I did. The author pointed that as newborn infants we all automatically breathing diaphragmatically and I've seen my share of fresh newborns as a Air Force medic and it's true. They do. 
 It is only as we grow older we start "chest breathing," with our upper lungs.
Of course, some athletic training & sports re-train proper breathing techniques and certainly Yoga does. 

Learn to Belly Breath:
#1) To begin, either lay down comfortably or sit comfortably.
#2)  Place one hand on your chest and place your other hand over your diaphragm. (picture)

#3) Inhale deeply through your nose, directing the air into the lower part of your lungs so it makes your belly rise, so the over your diaphragm also goes up. rises. The hand on your upper chest stays level.

#3)  Hold that breath* a second or two, then slowly exhale out  your nose, gently squeezing your diaphragm downward, so your belly sinks and the hand over your diaphragm lowers. 
The hand on the chest remains still.
*Holding your breath for second or two is important because belly breathing brings in sooo much oxygen, it can make you dizzy. Just
remember to inhale slowly, pause, then exhale slowly.

#4) Repeat, slowly inhaling through you nose, so just the hand on your diaphragm rises, hold a second, then slowly exhale all that air out, so the hand on your diaphragm sinks downward. 

#5) Practice this breathing method with 5 to 10 breaths a few times each day. Once you've got it down, then use it whenever you have a spare moment sitting, laying down or even standing to do a few breaths and give your body more oxygen!

According to a Men's Health article, a regular practice of diaphragmatic breathing has the following health benefits:
 •    Helps lower blood pressure, and therefore the risk of heart disease
    •    Helps lower blood sugar, and therefore the risk of diabetes
    •    Releases serotonin, which not only makes you feel good.
    •    Eliminates free radicals from the body, improving cellular function and lifespan
    •    Increases the secretion of growth hormone, slowing the aging process
    •    Improves mental focus, clarity & concentration by increasing blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex of your brain 
    •    Improves sleep quality
    •    Facilitates weight loss by balancing stress hormones

According to another article published by the Huffington Post:
Diaphragmatic breathing relieves stress by "stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which evokes a feeling of relaxation."

That's a lot of good coming out of such a simple thing!

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