Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep Breathing Exercises Photo from Rev Nancy's Collection

Like the cooling calm of a tranquil moon, deep breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing and other stress reduction activity will relax nerves and soothe your Soul.

About this author Today you're at "Doing a 360" to learn a few simple breathing techniques. Reduce stress levels quickly (like the stress hormone cortisol), enhance immunity and promote healing by opening blocked channels of energy or life force (prana). Melt away tensions. Feel the presence of the moment in this powerful stress reduction activity.

The fastest method to reduce the damaging 'stress response' from your sympathetic nervous system is to change your breath! Yes, to slow it down practicing deep breathing exercises that illicit the 'relaxation response' (antidote to stress) of your parasympathetic nervous system.

more on this stress reduction activity
Article: Yoga Breathing Techniques: PRANAYAMA
deep breathing KAPALABHATI

Deep Breathing Exercises: Diaphragmatic Breathing

Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing:

It quickly reduces stress levels as it… triggers the "Relaxation Response" which means it activates our parasympathetic nervous system. So, we get relaxed with:

- Increased immunity function
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
- Lower levels of cortisol (stress hormone) from adrenal glands
- Improved lung and heart function
- Increased oxygenated blood to trillions of cells in the body
- Improved concentration...focus on the power of now
- Improved digestion and elimination, and…
- Diaphragmatic Breathing opens a portal to Soul… awakening awareness

Let's examine how diaphragmatic breathing, one of the greatest deep breathing exercises, works:

When we're "stressed" our breathing tends to be fast and shallow. This is not good for our health. If we are running to catch the bus, okay; but chronic rapid breathing is not good. Period.

Slowing and deepening the breath activates the relaxation response which as I mentioned above is good...very good for us. The more you practice slow and deep breathing techniques then the easier it becomes to use this method when you really need it.

I'll share with you a story that happened to me many years ago. I was in a car accident that knocked me unconscious for a minute or so. I knew (because of my extensive training) that I was experiencing a tremendous stress response. So, of course I began to practice my slow, deep breathing exercises that I knew so well. By the time the ambulence showed up, got the door pryed open, and checked my vitals, the young paramedic said to me in a perplexed tone, "Wow, your blood pressure and heart rate is surprisingly low!" I responded that I had taught yoga for many years, and was just "practicing what I preach." He was impressed. I am telling you that changing your breath will change your life!

A quick glance at the basic mechanics of our respiratory system...

When doing deep breathing exercises you are slowly controlling the elastic motion of the lungs. Your diaphragm, which is a muscular dome-shaped partition, separates your lungs and heart (thoracic cavity) from your abdominal cavity.

When you deeply and slowly inhale, your diaphragm goes downward...massaging the abdominal viscera. When you exhale, it returns up to gently massage the heart. There are 24 ribs (12 on each side), with two types: true ribs and floating ribs. 7 upper pairs are true, which means they are attached to the breast bone; the lower 5 pairs "float."

So, when you breathe, the ribs move by the intercoastal muscles, and the pull of the diaphragm downward expands the lungs (two lobes or sections on the left; three on the right). When your lungs are expanded by these respiratory muscles, a vacuum is created...meaning the air rushes in.

A Powerful Stress Reduction Activity: The 3 Part Breath

Lying down on your back, close your eyes and take a few normal breaths...and relax. Be conscious...

With a slow, steady and smooth rhythmic inhale through the nostrils, breathe into these three (3) parts of your lungs, in this order:

1) Abdominal (Bottom) (expanding your belly)
Place one hand slightly above your navel and the other on your chest. Feel the bottom hand rise first as you breathe slowly and deeply.

2) Thoracic (Middle) (expanding your ribs)

3) Clavicular (Top) (expanding the upper chest)

...again, to repeat: Bottom first, then middle and finally, top.

Once the lungs are comfortably full, slowly exhale. At the end of the breath cycle gently contract the abdominal muscles to squeeze out any residual air lying at the bottom of the lungs.

Of course you may breathe like this sitting up as well. Like right now sitting here in front of your computer. Sit straight...don't lean back. Practice with me for a few minutes or more if you have time. Make the time! It's vital for your health and well-being.

Sometimes I refer to these practices as deep breathing exercises or "conscious breathing", or basic yoga breathing, "belly breath" or "the complete breath." Whatever you choose to call it. Do it with 360 awareness, which means all encompassing awareness. Focus on the sensation of breathing completely.

TIP: When you are breathing IN...your belly goes OUT!

Stress Reduction Activity: Use your web-surfing time to practice deep breathing exercises! What a great idea...I do it all the time. Use this time creatively. That's "Doing a 360." In Oneness Namasté Rev. Nancy
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