It’s said that January is the most stressful time of year and if, like us, you’re nursing a Christmas come-down – with less pounds in the bank and more on the waist – we can see why it might be true.
Deborah Berryman, tells us why breathing properly will help us to relax.
In a yoga, pilates or mediation class, you might be wondering why the teacher focuses on breathing techniques throughout the entire practice. This is because breathing in deeply and exhaling for a few seconds longer than your inhale sends a message to the brain and muscles to relax; while focusing on the sound of the breath can distract an overworked mind.
We tend to breathe from the upper chest resulting in a quick, shallow pattern. If we make a shift and breathe from the belly, we allow a maximum flow of oxygen into the lungs for us to restore energy, improve sleep and recharge the immune system.
Breathing slower, and from the belly will make you feel calmer, reducing stress and anxiety. Next time you start to feel your stress level rise, take a deep breath in through your nose, count to 4 and exhale for 5 counts, feeling your belly completely empty, then repeat.
It’s so simple, which is why it’s often overlooked as a useful skill, but this practice is incredibly powerful and effective. And we’ve known it through the ages too. Think about the times we do this naturally – when we’re about to do something scary we take a deep breath, or trying to soothe ourselves we slow the breath down, and even in childbirth!
These simple exercises help us to slow down, become present and focus on our senses. By bringing the attention to the way our bodies feel, we shift away from feeling anxious and instead relax. The best thing of all? You can practice anywhere, even at your desk!