The benefits of mindful breathing in your day
Instinctively we know how to breathe. It is something we are born to do and is part of everyday life.
Is it something we are conscious of?
The awareness of breath directly impacts many outcomes in regards to overall health.
How we breath is an essential part of regulating stress.
It calms the nervous system. This alleviates the various stress responses that would normally be engaged in survival strategies.
Choices are available that are not manufactured from the reactions of fight or flight response thinking.
Dr. Joe Dispenza, neuroscientist and author, explains clearly how the breath affects the internal functioning in the body;
“When we begin to close our eyes and take a couple of slow deep breaths and become aware of it, we’re literally switching nervous systems.
We switch from that fight or flight nervous system.
As we begin to breathe and we begin to turn on the other nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system, that nervous system is the nervous system of relaxation.
Your heart rate slows down, your respiratory system slows down, your blood pressure changes.
All your blood flow goes into your internal organs and into your brain and metabolism, or better said, energy is being rejuvenated and restored and no energy is leaking out to address emergency situations, to address threats.”
“By changing patterns of breathing we can change our emotional states, how we think, and how we interact with the world.”
– Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, Harvard-trained psychiatrist
Extended Benefits of Mindful Breathing
Overall, the benefits extend to improved focus, increased energy, shifted mood, and effective preparation for quality sleep.
All that is required is becoming aware of your breath. However, being aware of the breath is an action commonly disregarded throughout each day.
“Yoga teachings state that if the mind is moving so are the heart and respiration.
When we are angry, our breath quickens; when we sleep our breath slows down.
By consciously slowing down the breath and making it rhythmic so that consciousness is not disturbed by it, we can achieve corresponding tranquility.”
– Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama, psychologist, philosopher, & researcher
This means that mindful breathing has the ability to support anxiety and calm it’s intensities.
When stress is perceived, the breathing pattern changes. The breath becomes shallow and short while improper muscles are incorporated in the breathing process. The functioning of the body is disrupted and symptoms of anxiety expand.
Controlled breathing with slow breaths can bring the body back to operating in a non-stress state so it can function effectively.
Types of breathing techniques
Depending on your curiosity and experience with breathing techniques, here are some types to try:
- Lengthen the exhale
- Equal breathing
- Resonant breathing
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Box breathing
Practice breathing into a moment of stress
Imagine a moment of anxiety or tension.
Feel into that moment.
What thoughts are you experiencing? What feelings and emotions are you experiencing?
How is this affecting you in the moment? What are you doing? What are you not doing?
Now, imagine yourself taking a deep breath. Inhaling deeply, and then exhaling slowly and controlled.
As you inhale again, slow the breath and focus on the deep control you have of that breath. Before you begin to exhale, pause for 5 seconds and hold that breath.
At the end of that pause, exhale again slowly.
As you repeat the inhaling, pausing and exhaling a few more times, bring awareness to how that moment has changed.
What is different now?
What do you notice now that wasn’t present before?
What new choices opened up in that moment?
Did you see other benefits that accompanied awareness of your breath?
The awareness of the breath brings you back to your inner self.
Access to your inner knowing and acceptance of trust in the moment.