Day 16 – Breathing away your worries
Who takes the time to think about breathing? Typically, I don’t unless I’m in yoga class and am reminded to stop and pay attention to my breath. The instructor asks us where our breath is coming from and challenges us to breathe more deeply into our bellies. We also alternate holding our nostrils to regulate breath. These simple techniques call attention to our breathing and help us to breath in a more productive and calming manner.
The study of breath has lead to some pretty incredible and effective techniques for managing stress. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) promotes their “Relaxation Response” developed by AIS Founding Trustee and Fellow, Dr. Herbert Benson. The relaxation response is a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g. decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension).
When eliciting the relaxation response:
- Your metabolism decreases
- Your heart beats slower and your muscles relax
- Your breathing becomes slower
- Your blood pressure decreases
- Your levels of nitric oxide are increased (a very good thing!)
The relaxation response is not lying on the couch or sleeping but a mentally active process that leaves the body relaxed, calm, and focused. AIS endorses several breathing techniques and even a few tools that can be useful for progression in mastering your breathing, reconnecting your body and mind and stopping the stress response .Visit their website for detailed instructions. http://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath/
Abdominal breathing for 20 to 30 minutes each day will reduce anxiety and reduce stress. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body—it brings your awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.
Your challenge today: Simply focus on breathing. It is free and can be practiced anywhere- I bet you are even breathing right now! The key, of course, is focused breathing.