I am lying on the floor with one hand on my belly, which I am trying to inflate like a balloon as I breathe in. I inhale through my mouth, try to send the air right down to my abdomen, exhale, then repeat. “Now connect each breath, like a wave,” instructs Aimee Hartley, my breath coach. I won’t lie — it’s hard work. It’s not like the nice bit at the end of a yoga class when you just lie there and breathe. An hour later it’s a different story. After getting the hang of breathing this way, I don’t know where the time has gone. I feel as if I have been in another state — at times almost asleep, then suddenly overcome by emotion,…
We can learn to consciously change our breathing to improve our mood, simply by shifting the way we breathe. We can go from sleepy to energized, from panicked to calm, from restless to feeling at ease with just a few minutes of conscious, deep diaphragmatic breathing.
Here are the top five, tried and tested, most effective breathing exercises to help you shift into a more positive state of mind.
When was the last time you checked out how you’re breathing? Surprisingly, this unconscious act may hold the key to wellbeing. Research suggests a significant percentage of British adults aren’t breathing correctly, typically catching short, shallow breaths and failing to use the whole respiratory system. For improved stress levels, heart health and digestion as well as anti-ageing, recent studies indicate deep breathing has the potential to transform mind and body.
With the fast pace of life and London topping the charts as one of the most polluted cities in Europe, how can we learn to adopt healthier breathing habits and where’s best to do so?
Since the act of breathing affects the functioning of each and everyone of our 37.2 trillion cells and the physiology of the entire body, it is no surprise that improper breathing is a contributory factor to ill health. Luckily, breathing is one of the body’s only actions which is both voluntary and involuntary and therefore breathing is something we can learn to improve and have some control over.
‘Stress affects one in five of the working population, from the newest recruit on a work placement, to the board of directors and is now the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK, with over 105 million days lost to stress each year – costing UK employers £1.24 billion’. (source: Health and Safety Executive)
Inhaling and exhaling is something we do over 20,000 times a day yet sometimes every single breath goes unnoticed. Breathing is one of the body’s only actions which is both voluntary and involuntary and therefore breathing is something we can learn to have some control over. In just a few deep conscious breaths, we can shift our state of mind from an anxious flight or fight setting to a more relaxed mode. So why don’t we do this more often?
Stressed out? Lethargic? Struggling to concentrate? There could be a fix right under your nose; just take a deep breath. Breathing is an automatic function of the human body controlled by the subconscious, but some health practitioners are promising major benefits if we can all just put a little more thought into the way we take air into our lungs, a technique known as Transformational Breath.