Breathing is the easiest and quickest way to choose calm and has many health benefits. It seems so simple and yet, we may not be aware that we all breathe differently, so finding the way you breathe is really important in moving forward from this day on.
Find yourself sitting mindfully on the floor or on a chair with your back straight and your hands just above your diaphragm. Close your eyes and just naturally take some breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice what happens to your hands when you breathe in and when you breathe out.
There are 3 different distinct ways of breathing:
1. Shallow Breathing ~ when one inhales, his or her stomach goes in
2. Holding Breath ~ when one inhales, her or she holds in air and the breath, so the breath is not constant and smooth
3. Belly Breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) ~ when one inhales, his or her stomach goes out
No matter how you breathe, know that with practice anyone can change their breath.
At birth, we are belly breathers. Sleeping babies belly breathe as if they were filling up a balloon with each inhale and emptying it with every exhale. This way of breathing connects us to calm more efficiently. For some, somewhere along the line, breathing patterns change and people get used to their new pattern. Holding your breath doesn’t allow oxygen to our bodies in a sufficient way and shallow breathing keeps our breath in our chest and tenses our upper body. If you are not a belly breather, it’s very easy to change but it will take practice. As few as 10 minutes a day dedicated to diaphragmatic or belly breathing a day will be very beneficial. The great thing is that you can do it anywhere in the car at a stop sign, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or better yet, in your bed before or after a good night’s sleep. Simply sit mindfully with your back straight. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to fill with air with little to no chest movement, hold for a few seconds and then exhale slowly and completely through your mouth and emptying your abdomen. You can use your hand to gently push on your abdomen to help push out all the air. Repeat as you feel your body relaxing and releasing any tensions.
There are many benefits to belly breathing including the following:
1. Respiratory system works better
2. Digestive system does what it needs to do (How often does your stomach hurt when you are stressed out of nervous, or even have the butterflies?)
3. Lymph system works well – increases lymphatic fluid flow
4. Circulation system moves – increases oxygen to the heart
5. Immune system has more energy to heal and detoxify
6. Nervous system is calmer
7. Improves meditation by changing brainwave activity
8. Mentally more present which increases focus and concentration, which supports good decision making
Thought for the Day ~
In this moment, I belly breathe to help me connect with my inner calm and to strengthen my body.
Notice the difference when you mindfully belly breathe, how it makes you feel and how parts of your body like your shoulders release tension and begin to relax. Be gentle with yourself. The next time you find yourself beginning to stress out a little, take some belly breaths and connect to your inner calm. You’ll be glad you did.
Almost 30 years ago, Jo came out to study Psychology at UCLA and fell in love with the excitement of all that Westwood and Los Angeles had to offer: its arts, spiritual communities, shops, restaurants and most of all, its colorful array of amazing people. She has never left. Today, as a mother of two beautiful children, she was inspired to bring calm and thoughtfulness to their busy lives through meditation and visualization. This journey turned into a lifelong calling.
Through her private practice, a thoughtful way, as a Hypnotherapist, Therapeutic Guided Imagery Facilitator, educator and speaker, she helps many adults, teens and children maneuver their journeys with peaceful, life changing self-explorations. In addition, as a hypnotherapist at weSPARK, an amazing cancer support center in Sherman Oaks, she gives her nurturing guidance to those touched by cancer. In an attempt to do her part for Tikkun Olam, making the world a better place, Jo’s heart is always open to give her time and expertise helping others to connect with their inner calm, their strength and their beauty.