Breathing the Conscious Way
Did you know breathing is not just for oxygen; it has now been linked to brain function and behavior, according to Northwestern Medicine scientists. They have discovered that the rhythm of our breathing creates electrical activity in the human brain that enhances emotional judgments and memory recall.
These effects on behaviour depend critically on whether you inhale or exhale and whether you breathe through the nose or mouth.
Consciously changing the way you breathe sends a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow down ones heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calmness as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Anything that assists and maintains those little cortisol levels has got to be good for your stress levels and supporting you to relax.
When you take slow, steady breaths in and out through the nose, your brain gets the message that all is well and activates the parasympathetic response.
When you take shallow rapid breaths from the mouth or hold your breath, the sympathetic response is activated.
If your breath is conscious, relaxed and has an even rhythm your mind will be calm.
Science is providing evidence that the benefits of conscious breathing are real and that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, digestion, pain and many more.
I have been a Rebirthing Breathwork Practitioner and teacher since 1998; through this practise I have experienced and seen how the power of the breath can support healthy change.
I often hear in my practise with clients, I am having trouble breathing or I notice I hold my breath a lot, or I seem to only breath in my chest, why is that?
Most of us have never been taught to consciously breathe unless we have enrolled in a form of training of the breath.
Our first breath of life was when we were born and that for some was not a positive experience, resulting in some kind of trauma.
When we have experienced any kind of trauma the first thing we change is our breathing, as our breathing is reflective of what we are experiencing and how we feel.
Rebirthing Breathwork can support the release of trauma unlocking it from the body’s memory creating healthy change.
One of the take home tools I teach clients is 4-7-8 breathing exercise which supports the body/mind to reset and become calm.
4-7-8 Breath Exercise
Place the tip of your tongue behind your front top teeth.
You can do this in any position; if you are seated ensure your spine is upright and straight and both feet on the floor. Breathing through your nose quietly and blow air out forcefully out your mouth making a whoosh sound and pushing your lips out.
Begin with letting all the air out through your mouth.
Close your mouth, breath in through your nose quietly to the count of four.
Hold your breath for the count of seven.
Then blow the air out of your mouth for a count of eight.
Do this cycle four times.
This is a practise that you do twice-daily morning perhaps before you meditate and in the evening before you go to bed.
Sometimes you may feel light headed, mostly you will have a sense of relaxation.
After doing this practise for a month you can increase to eight breath cycles, do not take beyond this.
After using this practise for 4-6wks, start using it if you become reactive toward a situation or a person, you will notice the difference.
Use it when you have difficulty falling sleeping or if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep.
Helps with cravings.
After using this practise for 4-6wks you may also notice changes in your body:
Slows down heart rate
Lowers blood pressure
It changes congestion in the circulation of the body (cold hands and feet) as it changes the fight and flight response in the body.
I hope you find this breathing exercise helpful.
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Creating Life in Health and Wellness