The theme of this weeks post changed after Boris announced that masks are to be made mandatory in shops from 24th July. I thought it would be fitting to talk about breathing, & more specifically how to breath properly, so that those who read this can support themselves a little further in this time.
Sounds simple, right? We all breath without thinking about it every day, how can we not be breathing properly?
If you were to watch a baby, a small child, or an animal, especially whilst they are asleep, they all send the breath low into their belly when taking an inhale, filling themselves with air from the bottom up. It is really rather wonderful and peaceful to watch.
As we get sucked in to a manic modern society, fast paced and always telling us to speed up rather than slow down, somehow we forget this beautiful, expansive way of breathing. And no one is ever reminded that breathing into the belly is the way we should be breathing! Yes, breathing high & rapidly in to your chest is useful if you are in danger, for example when running away from a bear. But day to day, high, rapid breathing (which aids in activating your sympathetic nervous system, responsible for the fight or flight anxiety response) is not necessary. If the sympathetic nervous system is activated, your body believes you are in danger and uses your energy reserves to ‘get you away’ from whatever is posing a threat, meaning there is very little energy available for your body to complete it’s normal functions efficiently. Being consistently in ‘fight or flight’ over prolonged periods of time can be detrimental to your overall health.
Sending the breath low into your belly and taking care over the length of your inhales and exhales activates your parasympathetic nervous system, or the rest and digest side of your nervous system. Breathing this way can also begin to bring with it feelings of peace and calm. I truly believe that if we become the master of our breath, we can eventually have more mastery over our emotions.
Not only will you begin to feel more at peace, breathing in this way that we were intended also boosts your immune system, which is something we all need a little of, especially in the current climate.
To go about finding and experiencing this low belly breath, find a quiet, comfy spot. You may like to sit cross legged on a cushion to raise your hips a little higher than your knees, kneeling down straddling a yoga bolster/stack of cushions or sitting on a chair with your feet planted on the ground. However you choose to sit, allow yourself to find length in the spine, lifting up through the crown of the head. Bring your right hand to your belly and your left hand to your heart, and take a few moments to become aware of your breath as it is now. Where it sits, its pace, what it feels like. Cultivating an awareness of your breath in different situations will mean that you can begin to identify when you are in need of a little low belly breathing. Now begin sending the breath deep into your belly, feeling the entirety of your torso begin to expand from the bottom up, breathing in and out through the nose. Keep your inhales and your exhales to a similar length – the exhale in particular stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system. Sit and practice breathing in this way for a few minutes each day if you can. It will soon begin to infiltrate into your daily life and you will be reminded of how to use the breath that was intended for us.
In yoga when we practice a particular breath technique we call it ‘Pranayama’. which means ‘Extension of the Life Force Energy’ in Sanskrit. When we begin to use our breathing apparatus that we have been naturally gifted to its fullest extent, we begin to feel this life force energy nourishing the body from the inside out.
For a video tutorial on how to breath this way, head over to my mum’s business, Elysium Holistic Therapy on Youtube.
I am absolutely THRILLED to say that on this post I have partnered up with my beautiful friend and yoga teacher Catherine Gallagher and her brand ‘Yoga With Catherine’, to offer you a 15% discount on her brand new Pranayama course entitled ‘Breath Easy: A Course in Pranayama’. If you are interested in learning more about the breath and a whole host of pranayama techniques, Catherine’s course is just perfect for you. I am taking part in it myself at present and I absolutely adore it, in particular the Dirga (three part) breath which truly shows you how you can breath at your fullest capacity! This really is a wonderful gift from Catherine, her passion and love is evident through each tutorial and I am so grateful that she has allowed me to offer this to you all. To get 15% off use the code ciara15 when purchasing. A link to the course will be below. Be sure to check Catherine out on Instagram (Yoga with Catherine) and via her website http://www.yogawithcatherine.com . She has many beautiful online class bundles and other offerings waiting for you.
May this blog post and the reliability of your natural breath serve you well.
With Love, Light & Best Wishes,
Use code ciara15 at https://gumroad.com/l/qiOXl/ciara15 for 15% off ‘Breath Easy: A Course in Pranayama’.