One of my favorite quotes is “When you own your breath, no one can take away your peace.” This reminds us that in spite of what may be going on in our lives – stress, upset, discomfort, and even joy and excitement – we control the quality of our breath, not our situation. We can consciously stop what we are doing or feeling and breathe and in doing so, we can reset how our body and mind are reacting to the situation.
Breath is the fuel for our bodies – necessary to digest food, ward off diseases and to foster an overall sense of well-being. When this energy is strong, our minds become clearer; decisions are easier; the emotions find their right place and bring us renewed fulfillment in even the small things we do.
In “normal” breathing, most of us breathe right in the middle chest. The breath is shallow – taking in only about a pint of air and letting out that same amount. In stressful situations, we often hold the breath or breathe very shallowly. The sympathetic nervous system kicks in and the body is placed under stress. We are in effect starving our body which deprives it of the energy and nourishment it needs to live fully.
When we teach the body to breathe deeply, using the diaphragm, and take a full three-part breath (see directions below for 3-part breathing), we take in about seven times the amount of oxygen as in our “normal” breathing. Taking in a full, slow, deep breath, the lungs fully expand and the entire system is oxygenated. The parasympathetic nervous system is triggered with this deep breath, allowing the body to come into a greater state of relaxation and calm.
It’s that easy!! Inhale deeply, exhale completely….repeat!!!
co-owner Be Well
Directions for 3-part breathing:
Find a comfortable position either sitting or lying down. Begin to observe the natural breath and allow the mind to relax with the body.
Place both hands lightly on your belly. Take a deep inhale through the nose and send the breath to the belly. Expand the belly with air like a balloon. Exhale, expel the air out from the belly through the nose drawing the bellybutton to the spine. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.
Move your left hand to the side of your ribcage. On the next inhale, fill the belly, then draw in a little more breath and let that air expand into the ribcage feeling the ribs widen apart. Exhale, letting the air go from your ribcage and then from your belly emptying completely. Repeat for 3-5 breaths.
Next move your left hand to your upper chest. Inhale, fill the belly and expand the ribs. Then draw in just a little more air and fill the upper chest feeling your hand rise and the area around your heart and collarbone expand and rise. Exhale from the upper chest to the ribs to the belly – like a wave moving from top to bottom. Feel the lungs filling from the bottom to the top, then emptying from top to bottom taking in your full capacity of breath.
You are practicing three part breath! Continue at your own pace allowing the hands to rest back on your belly or at your sides.