Breathing is something many of us forget to do! WHOA. Really?
We are so busy with activities and commitments and long commutes and STRESS that we often forget to breathe. Or don’t breathe properly.
When you breathe deeply, you feel calm. When you breathe deeply, your Sympathetic Nervous System (“fight or flight” response) slows down and your Parasympathetic Nervous System (“rest and digest” response) takes over. Your adrenals will stop pumping those adrenaline hormones so you can feel calm, peaceful and centred.
What happens when we are calm?
- Our endocrine system works in harmony, producing the right amount of the right hormones at the right time (no one said it was an easy job!)
- Our need to emotional or binge eat disappears
- We handle stress better and let things roll off our shoulders
- Our brain gets much needed oxygen and we are more energetic, alert and focused
A simple way to retrain yourself to breathe properly is with the Three-Part Breath. This is often taught in yoga and mediation classes, so you may be familiar.
The Three-Part Breath
Purpose: To retrain YOU how to breathe properly for all the freakin’ awesome benefits listed above. PLUS, this exercise is especially helpful when there is a build up of tension in the body, specifically before your period and during menopause.
1. Either sit in a comfortable chair with your back straight and legs at 90 degrees or lie on your back with your head, neck, back and knees supported.
2. Spend a minute or two settling yourself, making sure you are comfortable and without distraction.
3. Begin by taking a normal breath in and out. Do not try to change your breathing, just simply observe for this first breath.
4. On your next inhale, breathe in slowly to only fill your chest with air, do not breathe into your diaphragm (under ribcage) area or your belly. Slowly exhale.
5. On your next inhale, breathe slowly into your chest, and your diaphragm. Slowly exhale.
6. On the next inhale, breathe slowly into your chest, diaphragm and belly. Let your whole belly fill- stick it out! Don’t worry about what your body looks like, more about how it FEELS. Slowly exhale.
7. After finishing one round of the three-part breath as in steps 1-6 above, take in a few normal breaths then repeat the whole process. Work your way up over time to 10 breath cycles or more.
This exercise takes mere minutes out of your day but the impact will be lasting. This is the reason I LOVE using this exercise when I do live events and seminars with the audience. You can feel the tension release in the room.
Do you participate in any other deep breathing or meditation practices? What is your favourite way of doing this type of self-care?