Remember to Breathe…
March 21, 2014
Whenever I teach my fitness classes, I always tell my class, “remember to breathe!” If my 3 and 6 year-old boys are fighting over a toy and testing my patience or my husband and I are feeling stressed about our busy schedules, I always tell them and myself, “remember to breathe!”
Breathing is such a natural part of our existence, yet, sometimes it’s one of the hardest things to remember to do when our bodies need it the most. Donna Farhi, an internationally renowned yoga instructor and breathing expert says in her book entitled, The Breathing Book, “breathing affects your respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychic systems and also has a general effect on your sleep, your memory, your energy level and your concentration.” In a nutshell, breathing helps transport oxygen to our bodies, which is critical for our survival. Pretty amazing to think about, isn’t it?
Sometimes it can be really helpful to go outside to get some fresh air and focus on your breathing or even just to have beautiful scenery to look at or picture in your mind. Maybe something like the picture above…
I took that picture on our recent family vacation to Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Seeing the ocean first-hand or at least picturing it, always puts my mind at ease and allows me to remember to breath more easily.
There are different breathing techniques out there for different situations…when you’re exercising, when you’re in a resting state, when you’re feeling stressed out and need to feel calm, when you’re managing back or neck pain, etc. However, one of the most effective ways to breathe is through your nose and your belly, which is part of a technique called diaphragmatic breathing or more simply, belly breathing. Belly breathing is often used in yoga, ballet bar and pilates workouts. This is how it works:
1. Inhale through your nose while expanding your belly (rather than your chest) outward as far as you can go (you can put your hand on your belly to feel it’s expansion)
2. Exhale slowly through your mouth and pull your belly back in
3. Repeat as many times as necessary
Feel free to give this technique a try the next time you need an energy boost, to calm a stressed or anxious mind, if you’re having trouble sleeping or if you’re in a yoga, ballet bar, pilates or other fitness class during the stretch section. I’ve also recently started to use this technique to better control my seasonal allergy-induced asthma and it definitely is making a difference!
I’m going to sign off for now, but I’ll be back next Friday with a new post. Have a wonderful weekend, my friends and happy breathing! 🙂
Works Cited: Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996) 1.