The simple act of breathing seems easy enough because your body does it automatically. In fact, you don’t have to remind your body to breathe because your Autonomic Nervous System controls it along with various other autonomic functions in the body. However, if you bring your attention to your breath, your brain begins to hone in on it’s flow. The flow continues to come in and out of the body, which can positively impact your emotional, mental and physical state.
Author of Life with Breath: IQ + Eq = New You and Performance Speaker and Consultant, Ed Harrold of Go Be Great Inc., believes that the benefits of conscious breathing practices in health and performance are insurmountable and include:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Regulated heart rate
- Decreased acid, inflammation and/or toxins
- Neutralizes the perception of time
- Enabled self-regulation of thoughts and emotions thus decreasing anxiety and depression symptoms
- Reduced stress response
- Improved sleep
- Increased energy, productivity, concentration and overall executive cognitive functions
- And so much more!
There are many ways to reap the benefits of conscious breathing and the first step in doing so is to try out some different practices in order to determine the one(s) that work best for you.
Diaphragmatic Breathing is a technique meant to allow you to use the diaphragm (muscle at the bottom of the lungs) properly as you inhale and exhale. In a 2017 study, The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults, diaphragmatic breathing was found to improve cognitive performance as well as decrease the physiological symptoms of stress in healthy adults. To learn how to try diaphragmatic breathing, click here.
Kumbhaka Pranayama or Retention breathing is exactly what it sounds like. This technique encourages you to take a fluid, deep breath in, with a hold or retention of the breath before you exhale. Usually this breathing practice uses a count to guide your breathing. Click here to learn how to try retention breathing.
Nadi Shodhan Pranayama or Alternate Nostril Breathing is an engaging breathing in which you are required to use your fingers to hold shut one nostril as you inhale the other side, then upon your exhale you hold shut the original nostril as you open up the other. This creates an almost circular motion of breath which can be done counter clockwise and clockwise. To learn how to try alternate nostril breathing, click here.
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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC
Health Advisor | Email Casey