How does stress affect our breathing?
We experience stress as the ‘fight or flight’ response which is rooted in the emotion of fear stimulated it is governed by the limbic brain. This causes a physiological domino affect causing us to hold our breath or hyperventilate, causing muscles to tighten, the heart rate to increase, cortisol levels to raise and sustained periods of this leads to lower immunity, sleep disruption, digestive issues, lower fertility rates and premature aging.
What connects the stimulus on a mental level (stress) to a physical manifestation (deterioration of health)? It’s the breath! By addressing breathing patterns we can reverse engineer the effects of stress to ensure we stave off the adverse health conditions.
Setting up the breathing exercise
Long Back, Fluid Breaths
A long extended spine allows for maximum lung capacity breathing, fluid breaths. As we breathe in first fill up the abdomen then the rib cage and finally the chest. In this order:
2. Rib cage
Exhale last in first out method- in this order:
2. Rib cage
The abdomen should be full the longest as the breath is first collected there and last to withdraw from the abdomen. Try it a couple of time and sense the flow of expansion and contraction with each breath.
Deeply Inhale, Slowly Exhale
Close your mouth, your tongue comfortably placed at the roof of your mouth and breath in and out through your nose, this maximizes the energy your get from each breath. Focus on taking a deep breath and slowly controlling the breath out so it feels like a soft and steady stream of air. The inhale may be audible but the exhalations are slow and completely silent.
Count 4 and 8
Counting backwards helps to bring the mind to the present moment and focused on feeling the physical experience of the breath which in itself tremendously calms the mind. Inhale to a count of 4 and exhale to a count of 8. Count as slow or as fast as your lung capacity permits as long as your exhalations are twice as long as your inhalations.
Try it for a few breaths you will see at first you count quickly but as you relax you can slow down your count, once you feel a slow and relaxed rhythms of the breath you will experience the stress response melt away and be able to think clearly to tackle the pressures you are faced with sustaining a peace of mind within.
Are you feeling fatigued by stress? Emotionally disconnected? Do you have difficulty in concentrating? Are you suffering from anxiety or experiencing physical tension building around your body? Establishing a mind body connection will empower you to end your cycle of stress creation.
Interested in learning more? Book a free consultation to be guided on how to optimize your breathing patterns