Tag Archives: breath

Have you taken the BREATH test?

Are you breathing? Then you are alive!
Yes, we all do it, all of the time and we give it very little thought (and probably NO appreciation!)  – unless we are ‘out of breath’ or ‘catch our breath’ – when suddenly it becomes much more important.

Are you stressed? Your breath can give you an indication AND a solution.
Breath check: Place one hand high on your chest and the other on your ‘6-pack’, breath normally a few times and note which hand moves most.
If it is the lower hand or both are about equal, then you are probably managing OK. But if it is the upper hand, then you are taking only shallow, little breaths and your brain is not receiving the oxygen it needs to function properly. It is a sign that you are probably showing the strain of stressful situations.

Here is what to do:  If you are aware that things are ‘getting to you’ then do your Breath Check about once an hour. Next take 1 minute (or longer if you wish) to make the Mind Chi square belly breath. To do this breathe IN for a count of 3 seconds, HOLD for a count of 3; OUT for a count of 3 and stay EMPTY for a count of 3. (If you have good breath control, you may increase the 3 second count to 4 or 5 seconds.)

What have you done for yourself? Even with something so simple as that breath, you have done many good things for yourself: you have increased the oxygen to your brain, as your brain requires 20% of each intake to keep working optimally, less than that means your thinking is fuzzy and slow. Your breath also interrupts the automatic stress response and starts to switch the cortisal flooded negative environment to a richer, positive environment. Concentrating on the breath also allows your brain a rest from whatever the stressful thoughts were and provides an opportunity to rest and refresh; this often encourages a fresh perspective – one where you might see more opportunities and solutions.

This is why we have made it the first step of the Mind Chi Basic 8 step (taking just 8 minutes) – for the other seven, please follow this link.

The Harvard Medical School also promotes the power of the breath , their article is here.

Best of all it is FREE

Harvard Medical School on the breath

Relaxation techniques:  
Breath control helps quell errant stress response

From the Harvard Medical School – Family Health Guide

Most of us are familiar with the term “fight or flight,” also known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When appropriately invoked, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by less momentous, day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems.

Health problems are one result. A prime example is high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease. The stress response also suppresses the immune system, increasing susceptibility to colds and other illnesses. Moreover, the build-up of stress can contribute to anxiety and depression.

We can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, nor would we want to. But we can develop healthier ways of responding to them.

The relaxation response is a state of profound rest that can be elicited in many ways, including meditation, yoga, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Breath focus is a common feature of several techniques that evoke the relaxation response. The first step is learning to breathe deeply.

The benefits of deep breathing:

Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.

For many of us, deep breathing seems unnatural. There are several reasons for this. For one, body image has a negative impact on respiration in our culture. A flat stomach is considered attractive, so women (and men) tend to hold in their stomach muscles. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.

Shallow breathing limits the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest part of the lungs doesn’t get a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.

Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.

Practicing breath focus:

Deep breathing

Deep breathing

Breath focus helps you concentrate on slow, deep breathing and aids you in disengaging from distracting thoughts and sensations. It’s especially helpful if you tend to hold in your stomach.

First steps. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down. First, take a normal breath. Then try a deep breath: Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower belly to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).

Breath focus in practice. Once you’ve taken the steps above, you can move on to regular practice of breath focus. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, blend deep breathing with helpful imagery and perhaps a focus word or phrase that helps you relax.

Creating a routine:

You may want to try several different relaxation techniques to see which one works best for you. And if your favorite approach fails to engage you, or you want some variety, you’ll have alternatives. You may also find the following tips helpful:

  • Choose a special place where you can sit (or lie down) comfortably and quietly.
  • Don’t try too hard. That may just cause you to tense up.
  • On the other hand, don’t be too passive, either. The key to eliciting the relaxation response lies in shifting your focus from stressors to deeper, calmer rhythms — and having a focal point is essential.
  • Try to practice once or twice a day, always at the same time, in order to enhance the sense of ritual and establish a habit.
  • Begin with a practice of at least 10–20 minutes each day.

Try the Mind Chi 8-step / minute routine, starts with a breath.