The holidays are a busy time of the year. There's shopping to do, baking to get done, the house needs cleaning, and guests are coming, whew! Just writing that sentence makes my heart race and I notice myself gasping for air.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) includes sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digest) systems. When stressed the sympathetic system is activated. When we’re in the fight or flight mode our adrenal glands are secreting cortisol, and when it is overused, this has chronic effects on health, sleep, weight, etc. By learning specific breathing techniques, you can lower your heart rate, blood pressure, switch from “fight or flight” mode to “rest and digest”.
Taking 3 deep breaths, during a time of stress, can interrupt the stress pattern and refocus your attention. Learning to breathe with awareness can be a valuable tool in calming the nervous system and allowing the mind and body to work together more effectively. In this video you’ll learn a breathing technique that will activate the parasympathetic (rest/relax) nervous system.
Many of us are unaware of our breathing patterns, and without realizing it, practice shallow, thoracic breathing most of the day. This draws a minimal amount of air into our lungs. This type of breathing is common during times of stress, and unfortunately, has become the normal breathing pattern for many. Take a breath. Does your chests rise and fall? If so, you are practicing shallow, thoracic breathing.
In deep, diaphragmatic breathing your abdomen will expand and contract. When you practice deep rhythmic breathing the diaphragm expands. It relaxes the body, and massages your lymphatic system which helps in the elimination of toxins.
CORRECT VS INCORRECT METHODS OF BREATHING:
Incorrect = Shallow, thoracic breathing (chest expands)
Correct = Deep, diaphragmatic breathing (chest AND abdomen expand)
PAIN AND INFLAMMATION:
Proper breathing also has an effect on pain and inflammation. During a work-out your body relies on stored glucose and oxygen for energy. Once we have used up what is in storage our body may start accumulating lactic acid. Lactic acid build up occurs when there is not enough oxygen in the muscles to break down glucose and glycogen. Deep breathing helps to deliver oxygen to the muscles and prevent lactic acid build up.
Practice this: Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Breathe in and count to 5, breathe out and count down from 5. Then count to 8, 10, 12, how deep can you breathe?