Are you feeling anxious, stressed and mentally restless and scattered?
Do you struggle to relax at night, find it hard to sleep, and wake up feeling tired?
If so, you might benefit from learning to breathe better.
But I already know how to breathe…I’m doing it now!
We all breathe. From the moment we emerge from the womb, we are breathing, and will do right up until the moment of death. So you might be wondering why you need to learn how to do something you have been doing since you were a newborn baby!
If you watch the ways a baby or small child breathes, and compare it to the way you breathe, you may notice some differences. Babies and small children breathe into their whole lung, their little tummies expand as the lungs fill with air and push the abdomen out. As we grow, we develop poor breathing habits as lifestyle, posture, many hours of sitting down at school and work, stress and other factors take their toll on the breath.
Learning to breathe properly offers huge benefits to mental and physical health. Here are just 5 of those possibly life changing benefits!
More energy and stamina
As you give your cells more oxygen, all systems operate better, including your muscular system. The muscles are able to function better, meaning that they can do more, and for longer. When I completed the Taff Trail in 2016, all 55 miles over 3 days, I had done no training, didn’t walk a lot, but had been doing a lot of Pranayama practice, so felt confident that I would be ok because of that, and I was!
Better Stress Management
When you get stressed, the flight or fight response is triggered, creating a series of responses that are useful for life or death situations, but not so good for making rational choices and living a healthy life. If you learn deep breathing, you are able to use your breath to help you manage your stress response, and give yourself the time and mental space to make better decisions, reducing the likelihood of you taking your stress out on those close to you, saying or doing something you might regret, or needing to numb your stress through things like alcohol, food, TV etc
Well, this might be stating the obvious somewhat, but as a long term asthma sufferer, I can promise you that this is quite a phenomenal benefit! Through my imporved breathing, my inhaler use has decreased, and I can now turn to my breathing practices in some instances where I would otherwise turn to my inhaler. As my respiration has improved, I have also found that my fitness has also improved, and my resting heart rate has lowered. I can even run if I want to! (I seldom want to, but I know that I can!)
Increased mental clarity
We have an estimated 60-70,000 thoughts running through our minds every day. While most of these are repetitive and the majority don’t make their way to our conscious mind, that is a lot of mental activity to contend with. The ever connected nature of our internet dominated lives must be adding more thoughts to our poor frazzled brains. Spending time away from the outside world, focusing on the breath, allows the mind to get still and quiet. In this stillness, you can hear yourself think, can slow down the frantic rumination that might take you in its grip if you are feeling overwhelmed, and hear the voice of your intuition. In this stillness, you can sometimes find the answers to problems, creative inspiration, or just some much needed rest.
Better Sleep and Relaxation
Deep breathing triggers the ‘rest and digest’ function of the nervous system, and helps the body and mind to relax. If you struggle to sleep, then lying still in your bed can help you to relax your mind and body, allowing you to slip into a deep and relaxed sleep. You can learn about the benefits of breathing to help sleep in this World Health Heroes chat show I took part in.
There are so many more reasons why learning to breathe well will help you live a happier, healthier life. How could your life be better through good breathing?