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Take a deep breath...

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14th Apr 2020




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In these very uncertain times we find ourselves in, feelings of anxiousness and stress may be a little more common in our everyday lives. Exercises such as yoga and meditation are commonly used to relieve feelings of stress and evoke relaxation, and both are highly focused on breathing. So how exactly does breathing help?

Breathing looks set to be the next big thing in the wellness world. There are already a substantial amount of books being published this year, and breathwork classes are popping up all over gym timetables. Aimee Hartley, a certified Transformational Breath facilitator, yoga teacher and author says if we pay attention to our breathing, we can shift the way we feel. We can slow our breathing down to help us feel calm and present, or quicken the pace of breathe to a particular rhythm to pep up our energy.

So what's the science behind it? 'The vagus nerve is stimulated by slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths', says Aimee. 'By slowing the breath to the optimum six breaths a minute, this will activate the vagus nerve. This allows the body to move from a 'flight or fight' state to a 'rest and digest' mode'. Dr Weil  states practicing regular breathing exercises can help with stress-related health issues such as digestive problems and panic attacks. 

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The overall sense seems to be that it couldn't hurt if we put a little effort into becoming a little more aware of our breathing. You never know, it could be your useful secret weapon for handling everyday stress. Here are just a couple of exercises to try out:

When you need to wind down: Equal Breath

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position (eyes open or closed)
  • Start by inhaling through your nose for a count of four
  • Then exhale through your nose for a count of four
  • Over time, you can increase the exercise to counts of six or eight

When you're stressed: Belly Breath

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position (eyes open or closed)
  • Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move
  • Breathe out through your pursed lips. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to help push the sir out of your lungs
  • Do this for up to 10 breaths. Take your time, and observe how you're feeling

For more resources on breathing, check these out:

READ - Breath Well by Aimee Hartley

DOWNLOAD - Headspace app for great meditation and breathing exercises

VISIT - thebreathguy.com for classes in breath techniques