With your breath, it is possible for you to tap into all the systems in the body and open these up, energise, detoxify and strengthen. There is scientific documentation which states that there are people who can subsist on sunlight only. There are even individuals whose breathwork techniques allow them to hold their breath for a period of over 20 minutes underwater. Monks from Tibet can sit naked in the snow, and dry ice-cold wet robes on their bodies by boosting their skin temperature through specialised breathing as well as meditation techniques.
The physiology behind deep breathing
“Studies of the physiological effects of slow breathing,” says Lisa Schneider: managing director of Trifocus Fitness Academy, “have uncovered important effects of this practice on the respiratory, cardiovascular, cardiorespiratory and autonomic nervous systems.”
Key findings of these studies include positive effects on:
- Respiratory muscle activity,
- Ventilation efficiency,
- Chemoreflex and baroreflex sensitivity,
- Heart rate variability,
- Blood flow dynamics,
- Respiratory sinus arrhythmia,
- Cardiorespiratory coupling, and
- Sympathovagal balance.
There appears to be potential for use of controlled slow breathing techniques as a means of optimising physiological parameters that appear to be associated with health and longevity, and that may extend to disease states; however, there is a dire need for further research into the area.
The American Institute of Stress recommends these three deep breathing techniques:
- The Quieting Response uses visualisation and deep breathing (which is a powerful combination) in order to halt acute stress responses in its tracks. The great thing about this exercise is that it only takes six seconds:
- First “smile inwardly” with your eyes as well as your mouth. Release the tension which has built up in your shoulders. This action is a powerful muscle release as most people carry tension in their trapezius muscles.
- After this, imagine holes in the soles of your feet. Take a deep breath in and while you do this visualise hot air flowing through these holes. Imagine this air moving slowly up your legs, through your abdomen and finally filling your lungs.
- Relax your muscles one by one as the hot air moves through them up and up your body.
- When you exhale reverse the visualisation so that you “see” hot air coming out the same holes in your feet.
Repeat this exercise during the day whenever you need to feel calm and relaxed.
- Sudarshan Kriya (SKY) incorporates specific natural rhythms of the breath that harmonise the body, mind as well as your emotions. This unique breathing technique removes stress, fatigue as well as negative emotions such as anger, frustration and depression. It leaves you calm yet energised, focused yet relaxed. There are a series of exercises which you can practise in order to find relief.
- Teddy Bear Breathing is one for the children:
- Lie supine and on your back.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other on your favourite teddy bear which is on your belly button.
- Close your eyes and relax your whole body.
- Breath in slowly through your nose. Your teddy bear should slowly rise, but your chest should not.
- When you have taken a full deep breath, hold it, count to three then slowly breathe out. Repeat a few times, until your feel relaxed.
Deep abdominal breathing is responsible for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system or relaxation response in the body. This response counteracts the stress mechanism (flight or flight – sympathetic nervous system). The result is that our whole body relaxes – heart rate, blood pressure lower, capillaries dilate, eyes relax and the sense of paranoia decreases. This type of breathing is an integral part of Yoga practice.
To find out how you can become a Yoga instructor, follow this link.