by Margau Perko, CYT – CNA guest speaker & writer
The breath – so simple! Yet many of us mainly use the top one-third of our lungs when we breathe. Physically, when we inhale the abdomen and chest expand, and when we exhale, they contract. By learning to draw the breath into the middle and bottom of the lungs, we can increase lung capacity simply by accessing more of them.
The stressful pace of life together with the sedentary jobs contribute to unhealthy breathing patterns, by creating tension in the body and inhibiting the full expansion of the lungs. Poor respiratory habits can take a heavy toll on physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. Shallow breathing also contributes to many chronic stress-related illness.
Breath awareness can be practiced anytime, anywhere; to relax after a stressful day or to center yourself in a difficult situation, such as during a doctor’s appointment. In a seated position, with your spine aligned, place on hand lightly on the abdomen, below the ribs but above the navel, and the other hand on the thigh. Soften your face, jaw and throat. Let your gaze be soft. Breathing through the nose, feel the hand move out as the abdomen expands. Then, as you exhale slowly, feel your hand move toward your spine. This is deep abdominal breathing. Repeat for 10 breaths, for as many times as you can without force. Your capacity will increase with practice.
Benefits of Better Breathing
Good breathing helps to maintain and improve physical health and mental & emotional well-being in the following ways:
- Boosts energy and stamina
- Relieves tension in the body and enhances the ability to deal with stress
- Improves the immune system and releases chemicals that promote healing
- Manages pain, improves circulation and lowers blood pressure
- Reduces fatigue and the need for sleep
- Increases powers of concentration and teh ability to think clearly
- Brings calmness and mastery of the emotions
Breath awareness is simply observing your breath throughout the day and noticing effects it has on your mind, mood and body.
Margo Perko is a Certified Yoga Teacher and owns One Lotus Yoga in Calgary. Please contact Margau at firstname.lastname@example.org