Can you imagine a time when your breath was taken away? Perhaps you were taken by surprise or felt nervous, scared or panicked? What did your heart do?
Your heart rate is influenced by your breathing pattern or rate, whether it be deep or shallow breathing. As you breathe, your cardiovascular system works to transport and circulate oxygen to every cell in the body. Researchers actually discovered that the heart, which is a large part of the cardiovascular system, actually communicates to the brain more than the brain to the heart. The heart communicates through the firing of neurons, release of hormones, pressure and electromagnetic waves, and other neurotransmitters. Each communication that the heart sends to the brain can be impacted by something as simple as your breath.
Normally you breathe with your chest, called shallow breathing. Shallow breathing has been shown to contribute to an increase in stress hormones, fatigue, breathlessness, high blood pressure and more. Conversely, deep breathing (also known as diaphragmatic breathing) is the best way to breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing occurs when you take a deep inhale, filling your belly full of air and letting go with a great sigh, allowing your belly to concave inward. Research supports that deep breathing exercises can have a positive impact on stress and anxiety, blood pressure, lung capacity, muscle tension, heart disease and so much more.
Here’s a quick five minute deep breathing exercise to begin reaping the health and heart benefits of deep breathing.
Begin lying flat on the ground with your arms relaxed by your side. Palms up and legs splayed in a comfortable position. Place your left hand on your heart and right hand on your belly. Just begin to breathe as you would normally.
Begin taking deep inhales through your nose and out your nose. Focus on the rise of your belly as you inhale and fall of the belly as you exhale. Do not judge your breath.
Continue with your fluid, deep inhales and exhales. On every third breath, take a deep inhale through the nose then open your mouth and exhale. On this diaphragmatic exhale, allow your belly to concave inward and try to relax your muscles as much as possible.
Return to your inhales and exhales through your nose. Try to count to a number between four and eight as you inhale. Count to the same number as you exhale. Continue to focus on the rise and fall of the belly as you take these deep breaths in and out of the nose.
Relax back into a normal breath pattern with the focus of breathing deeper and more intentionally than when you began.
To breathe is to live!
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey