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Breathing isn't just for yogis any more.
Our country has a silent epidemic... dysfunctional breathing patterns.
If you think about it, it is one of the things we can control and we really don't control it or have much awareness of it at all.
Stop for a moment and check out how you are breathing.
Is it shallow? Are you breathing from your shoulders and upper chest, or do you pull the breath down in to the belly?? Does your rib cage expand fully, or is there not much movement going on..
The breath is critical to a healthy mind, body, posture and the release of parasympathetic hormones produced in your body. When we move into the "fight of flight" or sympathetic nervous system, our animal instinct of freeze, run or fight comes out and our breathing becomes shallow and we are on high alert. Stress hormones are produced and released into the body.. The muscles become tight and we create holding patterns in our bodies. Unfortunately this way of breathing can become a habit and we end up burned out exhausted and not too high functioning any more. The rib cage and spine became rigid and calcified from lack of movement. Our chest and shoulders start to close in to make us smaller to protect us from the world or situation in front of us or we made up in our heads.
So to start the journey of correcting the breath, awareness is key. It's always the first step in change.
Start by lying on your belly with your hands placed under your forehead.
Then try this: Relax your body as much as possible. Shoulders relaxed tension released. Now take a nice, big, full inhale, like a bellows, inhaling through your nose pulling the breath down as low as you can into the pelvis, belly, diaphragm and rib cage. Exhale and relax empty the bellows, pulling belly button to spine to empty the breath.
Try another: Push the belly into the floor on the inhale, exhale pull the belly away. Try another big inhale. Directing your breath to different parts of your torso. The low back, side of the body and back of the rib cage.
Using an inflatable body rolling ball is a wonderful tool to learn how to control your breath into different parts of the body. Inhaling and focusing on the expansion of the inhale into the ball will help cue awareness.
Then begin to take your practice out into the world, any time during the day or when stress sneaks up on you. try your new breathing.
This practice will start you on your way to healthier breathing and ultimately a healthier you!