The power of your breath
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Breathing is a simple mindfulness tool that can be used to reduce stress and anxiety at any time, day or night. Connecting to your breath is the practice for mental fitness and the good news is – it’s free!
I found the benefits of yoga during the 2008 financial crisis. With very young children and a mortgage we were the statistic – we were in the thick of our own financial crisis. I found yoga as my “go to” solution when I felt overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. After each session I would feel calm and at peace and know everything was going to be ok.
Yoga is the practice of moving your body while connecting to your breath. In time I didn’t need yoga to connect to my breath and I was able to do it anywhere, anytime. Yoga introduced me to the practice of meditation.
The more I practiced breathing techniques the faster I could quieten my mind and I was able to create a sense of calm, clarity and connectedness. The more I practiced connecting to my breath and the present moment, the greater the awareness I had of my own thoughts, emotions and feelings. I then began to have moments of peace and observe my repetitive and negative thoughts. Using my breathing techniques, I was able stop my spiral into anxiety and reframe my thought patterns.
We talk about physical fitness what about mental fitness?
To improve our physical fitness, we can adopt different exercises. What about mental fitness?
Meditation as a practice uses breathing exercises to teach mental fitness.
Research by world class institutions such as Harvard University, Universities of California and Massachusetts, have gathered evidence that regular meditation practice promotes the relaxation response by restoring inner balance and calming the nervous system.
There is research to show regular practice of meditation retrains the brain reduce the body’s stress response.
Overall the benefits of meditation include:
- A clearer, calmer mind
- Better decision making
- Overall improvement in mental and physical health
- Reduction in the body’s response to stress and anxiety.
In order to feel these benefits, below is a simple breathing technique that can be practiced daily, or in times of high anxiety and stress:
· Focus on your breathing, inhale and exhale
· Place your hands on either side of your ribs, so you can feel your lungs expand on the inhale for 3 breaths, inhale and exhale, releasing the stale air from your body
· Inhale through your nose for 4 counts – 1, 2, 3, 4
· Hold for 4 counts – 1, 2, 3, 4
· Exhale for 7 counts as you feel the air expel from your lungs
If people can incorporate this breathing technique into their daily or weekly routine they will be on their way to a clearer, calmer, stress free mind.