Over the past couple of weeks I have been talking about the health benefits you can gain by focusing on your breath. Deep diaphragmatic breathing, directly into your lower abdomen, will also create more space for your lungs to inflate. When the lungs are at their full capacity an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide will flow easily.
Science and holistic health practices both agree that when your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response) is activated it balances your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). This means that when your mind and body are completely relaxed, you are able to nurture and heal yourself back to your natural, energetic self through steady and rhythmic breathing.
The key thing to remember for effective breathing is to ensure your posture is correct. always keep upright with a tall spine so air can easily flow in and out of your body.
The way you move your body also has a lot to do with how easily oxygen flows in and out of your body. The following three breathing postures take inspiration from yoga, but with careful practise you can also use these poses to help your breath flow easily.
Bending forward – exhale
A quiet but energising pose in yoga. By exhaling, your torso becomes compact meaning less physical mass between the upper and lower body as you bend. When you bend forward your lungs will empty and your heart rate will slow down, activating a relaxation response.
When lifting – inhale
When you inhale and lift, your chest opens to give more room for the lungs, rib cage and diaphragm to fill with oxygen. On the inhale, your heart rate will pick up, blood pumps quicker into the muscles increasing alertness for the lifting move.
When you twist your body – exhale
Twisting moves are good for lengthening your spine. Inhale to prepare for the move, exhale when you twist your body to the side. This allows for more space in your rib cage when your lungs empty and you can rotate your body further. The twisting move also acts as a detox when you exhale ridding your body of carbon dioxide.