Cleansing the mind is important for several reasons. Number one is to reduce stress, increase energy, followed by getting rid of stinkin thinkin. Sometimes we believe everything that we think and spiral down into a negative pattern of thinking. Negative thoughts can cause visceral fight or flight responses in our bodies, increase cortisol levels (draining your energy), bracing and holding your breath which makes it hard to relax and even get oxygen into your system. Further, shallow breathing increases anxiety, and thus the vicious cycle continues.
Benefits of breathing deep using the diaphragm and breathing into the abdominal region.
• lowered blood pressure and heart rate
• reduced levels of stress hormones in the blood
• reduced lactic acid build-up in muscle tissue
• balanced levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
• improved immune system functions
• increased physical energy
• increased feelings of calm and wellbeing
A great way to learn to breathe deep is first to sit or lie in a relaxed position with your hand over your belly button and inhale deeply pushing your hand out. Relax and draw the belly button in and exhale as in figure 1.
If this is hard to do when you are standing, try it lying on your back. Repeat this at least 10 times so you get the feel of really breathing into your belly.
Now let’s try alternate nostril breathing. This is an excellent breathing exercise that has numerous benefits.
- Balances both hemispheres of the brain making focusing and recall of memories much easier.
- Brings effectiveness and calmness to the mind allowing for better decision-making and rational thinking.
- Alters the mental state so you feel more relaxed and calm for long periods of time.
- An excellent way to relax you when your baby is hard to calm down and you feel anxious.
- Good as a daily practice for Mom to reset and rejuvenate especially on those long days.
- Sit comfortably, chest lifted, and breathe all your air out through your nose. Close your lips and place your thumb gently on your right nostril and hold it closed, as in figure 2.
- Breathe into your abdomen through just your left nostril, filling your abdomen first, then your chest. Keep your eyes on the horizon.
- When you have inhaled as much as you can, pinch your nose closed with your thumb and ring finger, as in figure 3. Hold and retain the air for 2 seconds.
- Release your thumb, holding the left nostril closed with your ring finger. Exhale all your air out through the right nostril.
- Inhale through the right nostril while holding the left nostril closed with your ring finger. When you have inhaled as far as you can, pinch both nostrils closed and retain the air for 2 seconds.
- Keep your right nostril closed with your thumb and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat this sequence 6-10 times.
Another excellent breathing technique is the Wim Hof Method.
The benefits of Wim Hof Breathing are numerous due to the heightened oxygen levels it produces in your body.
- Increases energy
- Increases lung capacity – I can now swim underwater without coming up for air for over one minute which is a big improvement for me.
- Reduces stress levels
- Stimulates the immune system which can have an immediate effect on ailments in the body.
Give it a try!
Check out my YouTube Video for examples on how to breathe properly and try both breathing exercises.