We hear it over and over, breathing is good for your health. I guess if you weren’t breathing you would not be among us–so we can all agree it is good for your health! I would think at this stage of life, we would know how to breathe, but alas, there is much to learn.
The recent Wall Street Journal article: Breathing for Your Better Health says: Controlling Your Breath Is an Easy Way to Improve Mental and Physical Health. Slow, deep and consistent breathing has been shown to have benefits in treating conditions ranging from migraines and irritable bowel syndrome to anxiety disorders and pain.
When I teach stress and pain solutions, I begin with breath. It is a tool for both body and mind, it is free, and with you everywhere you go (you do not have to go home to get your lungs).
The suggestions of controlling breath and breathing deeper feels a bit daunting to many. What I see is force and the mind wanting to get it right. Let’s begin with a simple practice to get you going.
Technique of the week: Practice this three times morning and evening.
When first starting out I suggest you place your hand on your belly and notice without judgment if your belly is ballooning out. (If you are one of those people who suck in your belly to look thinner, for this practice–let it all hang out!) If your belly rises, you are getting breath into the lower lobes of your lungs. If not, no worries. Simply place your hands on your ribcage instead. If your ribcage expands you are getting breath into the middle lobes of your lungs.
Here is the practice:
- Take an inhale without force, while having your hand either on your belly or ribcage. This will help you direct the breath.
- Slowly exhale and make your exhale slower than your inhale.
- Notice how many counts it takes you to inhale, and then add two counts to your exhale. This will help you get in the habit of slowing down your breath.
- Do this practice each morning to get your going and each evening to help settle you down for sleep. Throughout the day, when you feel stressed, do one or two.
- My goal is to have you practice daily so it becomes natural.
You might be thinking, Ellen this is too simple. I know how to do this. If that is your reaction, then this will be easy for you. If you choose to not practice, then you might want to look at your resistance and in the world of Ellen, resistance is futile! I keep it simple because it works and is approachable for all.
From my own experience, I was a stressed out breath holder. When I was first taught to deepen my breath, like a good overachiever I tried hard, forced, and got dizzy. This is not a breathing contest, so ease up and make this an exploration. There is not good, bad, right, or wrong. It is what is more or less effective.
If you live in Atlanta and are thinking: Wow, I would love to learn more about simple breathing techniques–you are in luck. Sign up for my new workshop: Let’s Get Real about Stress & Pain. You will be happy you did 🙂
I leave you with a request. Next week, practice daily and let me know what you noticed. Happy Breathing!