Breathing is automatic but massively underestimated - it has the power to improve our wellbeing both physically and mentally and here's how
We all live busy lives and often forget to breathe properly. It's something automatic - we do it without thinking about, so it’s easy to understand why it gets neglected. It doesn’t help that we’re hunched over our laptops and smartphones all day - this posture isn't exactly conducive for getting fresh air in our lungs.
We can live 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water but only 3 minutes without air, however we never seem to pay as much attention to it as we do to our diet. For something so fundamental to our survival, it’s a surprise that we don’t notice our bad habits.
Breathing is Massively Underestimated
In its simplest form, it gets fresh oxygen into our bodies to nourish our cells and is vital when it comes to elimination of waste. Fresh oxygen in the blood travels to the brain and helps us stay alert and focused. It also nourishes the vital organs and helps them operate better. Having more of it generally increases our sense of wellbeing.
On a more fundamental level, deep breathing is known to calm the nervous system and is hugely effective at helping us overcome situations of anxiety and panic. This is because breathing is so closely linked to the nervous response. Our breathing, and other vital bodily functions, are controlled by the Vagus nerve. This nerve also controls the parasympathetic nervous system and is responsible for the relaxation response when stimulated. The theory goes like this - if you control your breathing, you can trigger this relaxation response.
Control Your Energy
In yoga, breathing practice is called pranayama, which essentially means control of life force. If you can control your life force, you can control your mind. The way we breathe exerts huge influence over how we feel both physically and mentally, so we should make a regular effort to be conscious of it and really use it to our advantage.
Urban Guru's Top Tips
Here are Urban Guru’s tips on how to incorporate better breathing practices into your daily life:
1) Pay attention to how you breathe and which part of your lungs you use. Place one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen and observe what moves when you breathe. Deep abdominal breathing, where the belly comes out, makes most efficient use of the lungs’ capacity because it engages the diaphragm. If you notice that either just your chest, or worse, your collarbones are moving, you’re breathing too shallow
2) Every hour, make an effort to sit up straight and take a few deep abdominal breaths. Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget! Eventually you will form a good habit
3) Laugh more - the action of laughing expels stale air from the lungs, making the space for new, oxygen rich air to replace it. Go and see a comedy, share a dinner with good friends, or even just laugh for the sake of it - it works!
4) Take regular breaks at work and go for a short walk. Even if it’s just a flight of stairs or two, that’s enough to stimulate the heart which will get more oxygen into your system
5) Go outside and get some fresh air in your lungs. Being cooped up in the office environment with circulating air isn't the best place to get good oxygen
6) Take regular exercise - raising the heart rate increases our need for oxygen, which increases the depth of our breathing and utilises more of our lungs
7) Before going to bed, take 10 minutes to do some alternate nostril breathing. This is said to help balance your energy and the breath retentions do wonders for concentration
Urban Guru’s Classic & Compact yoga classes incorporate specific breathing techniques which help calm the mind and reconnect you with your body. Contact us to find out more about how you can make these powerful tools available to your people.