Ever wonder why most group instructors or trainers end classes or sessions with deep breathing?
No, we're not finding ways to waste those last few minutes! Well, ok, sometimes.
We're usually doing one of two things or both:
- Trying to elicit a stress release response
- Teaching you HOW to breathe
Now the first you probably understand. Afterall, the stress relief benefits of yoga and meditation, both forms use structured breathing patterns, have been well studied and documented for years. Its one of the reasons they're used in anger management classes, corporate settings, and even for those confronting debilitating and life threatening disease. Deep breathing helps you to relax, pause and gather your thoughts so you don't act out or allow you to feel what you're going through recognize it for what it is, not MORE than what it is, and let it go, come up with a plan or continue on. Makes you want to seek out a yoga class, right?
The second, you may find silly. Afterall, we were all born knowing how to breathe right? Of course, or we'd all be dead! But are you really breathing?
Most Americans don't use all their lung capacity to breathe. Our rushed lifestyle, also has us rushing to breathe. So we only use the upper lung lobes to take a full breathe. The problem this elicits is a decreased oxygenation of our blood and muscles. Why is this important? Well, breathing, oxygen, is what keeps us alive?!
Don't believe me, think about your day. As the day progresses, do you find yourself getting sleepier, less productive, more easily distracted? Most of us refer to this as our 3pm slump. Its when a lot of us turn to coffee, chocolate, carbs or some sugary treat, as a pick-me-up. Trouble is, those things will only leave you more tired once the initial rush passes. But WHY do you feel so tired at late afternoon? Sure you're busy, may have had interupted sleep due to a cranky or sick child, or have been poorly fueling our bodies. But you also may be breathing shallower as the day goes on.
As the day progresses, the stress, things that NEED to get done, rushing from here to there, meetings, etc also build up. And although we may be handling it all well, our bodies feel the stress and rush we're under and we breathe shallower. Think about it, when was the last time you took a deep breath? I'm sure you're thinking about it now as I write this. But before you were thinking about it were you really breathing?
A deep breath should cause our belly button to go in and out, our shoulders should lift and fall slightly, it should be slow and controlled. The more oxygen we get to our muscles and into our blood, the more effective we can be in all we do and the more alert.
Give it a try. Yes! Right now!
Place your hands over your belly button.
Relax your shoulders and close your eyes.
Breathe in for a count of 3-5 and breathe out for the same count.
Feel your belly button and shoulders slowly rise and fall.
Don't rush the breath, just slowly inhale and exhale.
Do this for 5 breathes or 2 minutes.
Notice how you feel. Is your mind clearer? Do you feel less tired? Are you ready to tackle the next task?
Deep breathing has many health implications and can serve to help you reduce stress, increase alertness, improve posture, stimulate digestion and toxin release, relieve pain, sleep better, lower blood pressure, improve circulation and make you feel better, happier, more capable.
So next time you feel tired, stressed, overly angry or emotional, frustrated or are just really busy, pause and take a few deep breathes. You'll find you're more able to tackle the situation at hand, more energized and healthier!!!