It’s fair to say that we take breathing for granted!  Our autonomic nervous system breathes for us but how optimally we breathe, actually depends upon our state of mind and whether we are in a Rest and Digest or Flight or Flight state.

Fight or Flight occurs when our Sympathetic Nervous System prepares our body to run away from danger or react to “stress.  It floods our system with adrenalin, which in turn increases blood flow to our limbs and makes us generally more alert.  This state is designed to be used only when we need it and should not be constant, as this will drain our adrenal glands and disrupt other vital functions.  Our Rest and Digest state slows us down. It prioritizes blood flow to all of our internal organs and reduces our heart rate allowing us to digest our food properly, relax and repair our cells. Optimum digestion is where I became interested in breathing techniques, but it has so many other health benefits too and of course, every function in our bodies is related to our overall balance and wellness.

 When we are in Fight or Flight, we experience shallow chest breaths.  If we take the time to become conscious of our breathing, we often realise that this is how we are breathing most of the time, signalling that we are in Fight or Flight too often.   When we breathe deeply, with a slow and steady inhalation to exhalation ratio, this signals our parasympathetic nervous system to calm the body down and return to Rest & Digest.  Long, deep breaths can also manage our stress responses to help decrease anxiety, fear, racing thoughts, a rapid heartbeat and the Fight or Flight shallow chest breathing.

Tip No 1: Balancing Breathing Technique

When we breathe up through our right nasal passage, the oxygen is delivered to our Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight) and when breathe up through our left nostril, the oxygen is delivered to our Parasympathetic Nervous System.  The following breathing exercise could be carried out 3 times a day to maintain a good balance between both:

Taking your dominant hand, fold over your forefinger and middle finger

In the case of right handed people

Place your thumb over your right nostril

Breathe in deeply to the count of 5

Hold for the count of 5

Place your ring finger over your left nostril and remove your thumb from right

Breathe out to the count of 5 through your left nostril

Breathe in to the count of five through your left nostril

Hold for the count of five

Place your thumb over your right nostril and remove your ring finger from your left

Breath out to the count of 5 through your right nostril

Repeat this exercise 5 times, 3 times daily

 

In the case of left handed people

Place your thumb over your left nostril

Breathe in deeply to the count of 5

Hold for the count of 5

Place your ring finger over your right nostril and remove your thumb from left

Breathe out to the count of 5 through your right nostril

Breathe in to the count of five through your right nostril

Hold for the count of five

Place your thumb over your left nostril and remove your ring finger from your right

Breathe out to the count of 5 through your left nostril

Repeat this exercise 5 times, 3 times daily

If you are feeling particularly stressed or can’t sleep, take some time to close your right nostril and breathe only through your left nostril 5 times slowly.

Tip No 2: 4:7 Breathing to Calm the Nervous System

4:7 breathing is very simple, quick and calming for the nervous system. This exercise is subtle when you first try it and gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day and you cannot do it too frequently.  Once you develop this breathing technique, it will become a useful tool which you can use before you react to something upsetting, whenever you are aware of internal tension or to help you to fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended highly enough and everyone can benefit from it.

Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning you are learning to do it.

Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue.  You could try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward

Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound

Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four

Pause

Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound to a count of seven

This is one breath

Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths

 

Notes

Always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth.

The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time.

Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.

The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7 is important.

With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

 

Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

 

Tip No 3: 4:16:8 To Stimulate the Flow of Cleansing Lymph Fluid

The up and down movement of the diaphragm when you breathe deeply, is an essential part of helping lymphatic fluid to return to the bloodstream. Combined with the inward and outward movements of the abdomen, this assists in the return of venous blood back to the heart.

Our rib cages are major lymphatic pumps which are necessary for healthy lymphatic flow.  This means that while exercise is essential for your lymphatic health, deep breathing is equally as important. Deep diaphragmatic breathing allows your lungs to press into the thoracic duct, which then presses fluid back into your bloodstream.  Deep breathing facilitates proper lymph movement and detoxification, vital for maintenance of good health.

Breathe in through the nose (sitting or lying) 4 for seconds

Hold for 16 seconds

Breathe out through mouth pursed lips for 8 seconds

Do 5 rounds

4 Reasons

It has been suggested that the average individual can survive 40 days without food, 4 days without water but only 4 minutes without oxygen!  These 4 minutes are enough incentive for me to practice daily breathing techniques along with increasing vitality, improving brain function, supporting lymphatic drainage and generally feeling calmer.  I really hope that I have given you some food for thought and a deeper appreciation for how amazing our bodies are.  It fascinates me how simply we can help ourselves to improve or maintain our own health.  So, empower yourself today and try at least one of the above. Happy mindful breathing!

 

For more breathing exercises, please click on this link

https://www.verywellmind.com/abdominal-breathing-2584115

Other Useful Therapies to Consider to reduce Stress and aid Relaxation

Yoga – Meditation – Acupuncture – Cranio Sacral Therapy

 

Sources:

Dr Sara Gottfried, https://drjockers.com/breathing/,  https://bio.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_and_General_Biology/Book%3A_General_Biology_(Boundless)/39%3A_The_Respiratory_System/39.3%3A_Breathing/39.3B%3A_Types_of_Breathing

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-20267197

Lyn Sharkey Nutrition
0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop