Deep breathing has many amazing, positive impacts on our body. One of the most obvious benefits is to help reduce stress and anxiety. Start with just a couple of minutes of deep breathing in the morning and evening and build up to 15 – 20 minutes if possible. Even building up to 5 or 10 minutes is extremely beneficial.
Sit in a comfortable chair, feet on the ground, shoulders relaxed. If you can sit outside with bare feet touching the ground, even better. Relax your stomach and place your hand on your stomach. Exhale fully, then breath in slowly and deeply, starting from your abdomen. When you completely fill your lungs with air, your stomach should “inflate”. Hold the breath for 2 seconds then exhale slowly and fully. Focus on each breath. If thoughts enter your head, gently push them aside.
While you are inhaling, focus on your legs becoming lighter and when exhaling, make sure you relax your shoulders, arms and legs.
Often when people start practising deep breathing their breathing can be quite “mechanical” and “heavy”. As you relax your body, your breathing should become “gentler” and more natural, while still remaining deep.
Whenever you can during the day, deep breathe for 30 seconds to a minute or more. When going to the toilet, sitting at traffic lights, waiting for an appointment, before eating (great for digestion!), while watching television during the commercials with the sound turned down. Literally any time you can find, but in particular when you are feeling rushed, stressed or anxious. If you find yourself rushing around, stop, close your eyes and deep breath for 3-4 breaths, then continue on your way slowly. This is a very powerful tool to help alleviate stress and anxiety and it is beneficial for every part of your body.
If you continue to practise this technique for long enough, your body will slip into a relaxed state the moment you sit down to deep breathe.
If you have been shallow breathing for years, which most people have, it takes a lot of practise to learn how to deep breathe and for it to become second nature. Be aware of your breathing, correct it throughout the day and persevere. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
By Andrea Southern, Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist Stafford and The Gap in Brisbane. For an appointment phone 0412 791 705