When I first started teaching this, it was sort of like a precursor to the ‘real thing.’ Then I realised, if people don’t do THIS technique properly, then they will NEVER get the full effect of the other relaxation techniques I teach.
In all of the workshops I have taught, the only people that know how to do this are people with asthma or people who have suffered from anxiety and have been taught how to breathe by a professional.
I’m going to teach you now.
This breath is called diaphragmatic breathing. It’s the way we breath when we are babies, (how we were born to breath) and somewhere along the way, we stuff it up big time.
Here are the basics:
Firstly we inhale the breath through the nose; it travels down into our lungs. Our lungs are made up of three parts. When we are stressed, the air stops in the first part of the lungs.
This my friends, is bad, and this way of breathing is how most of us breath now.
Why is this so bad?
You are only giving your body 1/3 of the oxygen that it needs.
Our bodies need oxygen for:
- cell respiration and metabolism necessary for the growth of tissues,
- the conversion of food to energy
- and the reproduction of cells
- The gas also provides heat and energy, and it oxidises or “burns” carbon dioxide and other waste materials to prevent them from poisoning the body
- The brain uses 20 percent of the oxygen a body consumes, loss of cognition, memory or movement control can be due to reduced oxygen intake and subsequently lowered neuron activity
- When neurones do not get enough oxygen, this leads to fatigue, irritability and depression
- According to Oxygen-Review.com, this increases the risks of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease. Brain cells begin dying within about five minutes of being deprived of oxygen.
So let’s do this right.
Place a hand on your belly and a hand on your chest.
Gently breath and see which hand moves.
Keep your hands there, relax your shoulders, soften your face and take a deep breath in. Imagine that you can SEE the air going all the way down to the bottom part of your lungs, past your rib cage. This is where the diagram muscle is. This muscle pulls the lungs down, increasing it’s capacity, and in turn, pushes the belly out when you breathe in. (This is why it’s sometimes called ‘Belly Breathing.’)
The hand on your belly should be moving out as you breathe IN, and it should come in as you breathe OUT. This is when you know you are getting enough oxygen.
When you first start doing this, some people get a little dizzy; it’s the increased oxygen in your system.
Now this is the way we want our bodies to breathe ALL the time, involuntarily.
So how do we do this?
With practice. Perhaps start your morning with three deep belly breaths.
Perhaps start your morning with three deep belly breaths, then maybe at night too.
When I first started doing this, I wore a Mala bracelet and everytime I saw it, I practiced a belly breath. It’s automatic now, although I still wear the Mala beads, to remind me of where I have been.
If you want to watch a video about it, here’s a YouTube clip I popped together for you.
Once you have this technique down pat, there are a whole lot of relaxation techniques you may like to try.