Written By Shanali Jarvis
Have you ever wondered why people talk about breathing to ease stress and to welcome a calm state of mind and body?
Something many of us are unaware of is the fact that we may naturally be breathing improperly. Trust me, I understand what you’re thinking and when you say ‘How can I be breathing wrong?’. However, when we breathe without thinking about it so much, we tend to take in a shallower, more shortened breath. This, in turn, can decrease the volume of oxygen taken into our lungs, and therefore what is distributed into our cells and tissues around the body can become less than the optimum. Often this can leave us feeling and looking fatigued, anxious and frustrated, without realising that something as simple as our breathing habits could be the problem.
Before I started meditating, and at the height of my anxiousness and worrying, I would usually feel panicked and a heaviness in my chest as I almost forgot to breathe. This also left me feeling quite overwhelmed, not knowing what to do to resolve these unwanted feelings. Once I started to learn how to use my breath as a tool to manage such nervous moments, I began to realise that the two were strongly linked; and that the shallower intakes of breath had been a large inhibiting factor in managing my well-being.
With the uncertain times that we are currently living in, I have wondered how some of you might not be aware of the quality of your breath, and how the lack of mindful breathing may be affecting your own well-being. It is easy to feel powerless about what’s happening around us, which can then spin into worry that we can’t control.
With this in mind, I wanted to write a blog post to show the benefits of mindful breathing and share with you the controlled breathing techniques I have discovered through my wellness journey, and how easily you can use them to help yourself too each day.
When we breathe more deeply, our parasympathetic nervous system is activated which, in turn, increases our body’s energy and opens the door to us adopting a more calmer headspace. This more relaxed state drives more oxygen to the brain, giving us a sense of relief, and makes us feel more focussed and reconnected to the stability beneath us. When you are more mindful of your breathing, you take more control of your life - metaphorically and literally - and it can actually help to prolong it. Regular practice of controlled breathing will also help the lymphatic system release unwanted waste more efficiently, improve digestion, balance your emotions and have a positive impact on your skin.
The best part of adopting more mindful breath-work is that you can do it anywhere, and at any time. For example, if you’re like me, and you find that your at-home skincare routine is when you like to indulge in some ‘me-time’, then you can incorporate the following breathing technique whilst putting on your facial oils, serums, moisturisers or, if you have time, whilst giving yourself a facial massage.
Mindful Breath Exercise
Take a long, slow breath in through the nose, hold for 3. 2., and 1. Then exhale through the mouth. Inhale slowly and deeply again. This time, when you exhale, soften your jaw, let your upper and lower teeth part and your tongue go limp; feel your worries and cares melt away. As you inhale let your breath become deeper still and on the exhale let your shoulders relax.
Repeat the above several times, and as you do so, surrender your breath and let yourself go.
Try to complete this breathing exercise at least once a day, to help re-focus your mind and experience that tranquil moment with clarity.
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With Love - BBF x