This article is focused on Breathing: Inhale deeply………. Hold…… exhale slowly while you relax your jaw. It can really be that simple! Read on!
As we move into Spring, it is a wonderful time to find opportunities for simple movement. As a movement educator, I believe that all aspects of health and well being are already present within our body – we have all that we need within us.
We simply need to start thinking and sensing the body from within – we can then discover what it is like to really know or live in our bodies.
There is a relationship between our thoughts and how this directly affects how our body feels – for example, sad experiences and grief can make you feel like you are made of lead – small physical tasks such as hanging out a load of washing can feel like a marathon – the same way that lack of movement can make us feel sad.
A simple exercise to help us feel better, and definitely worth trying, is to simply stop and breathe deeply. There are two exercises listed at the end of the article that you can try – it feels amazing and is very easy – you can do it anywhere, anytime!
A quick digression – the Pilates method was invented by a person – Joseph Pilates – over 100 years ago – a genius of a man, well ahead of his time. Joseph had 6 principals of movement, that are present in all Pilates exercises – his first principal is breath. He wrote:
“Breathing is the first act of life, and the last…. above all, learn how to breathe correctly”
Breath plays an especially important role in contributing to, or alleviating stressful states. It is indeed, the very first act and the very last act of life for everyone. It is with us for our entire life, but we do not pay it enough attention, or realize its importance.
Joseph Pilates also wrote “To breathe correctly, you must completely exhale and inhale, always trying very hard to squeeze very atom of impure air from your lungs. The lunges will automatically completely refill themselves with fresh air. This supplies the bloodstream with vitally and necessary life-giving oxygen. The complete exhalation and inhalation of air stimulates all the muscles into greater activity” – from his book Return to life, page 13.
As we know, breathing is the process of exchanging gases between the cells of an organism and the external environment. It is how the body replenishes itself with oxygen and eliminates waste gases such as carbon dioxide via the blood stream.
The human body requires fuel for survival, namely – food and water. It also requires oxygen. Without food we might live a few weeks, without water a few days, however without oxygen we will perish in a matter of minutes. Our ability to breath easily commands how efficiently we can draw in oxygen and emit carbon dioxide.
If breathing is compromised, even minimally, we may not really notice much, yet it certainly affects our performance and well-being. The more that breathing is compromised or becomes inefficient the more we will notice the affect.
Deep breathing has long been utilised as a means of relieving stress and soothing the nervous system. We are deeply affected if we cannot breathe efficiently or deeply enough – What if there was tightness or anxiety in our bodies, that filling up our lungs was compromised? What if we only ever breathe shallow, and this causes anxiety and tightness in our bodies?……
Try improving your breathing and see how energised you feel! Spend a few minutes each day paying attention to your breath, and positively improving the capacity and strength of your lungs. Your body will love you……
Here are some breathing exercises can do anywhere, anytime:
· Lie down on your back, with your spine aligned long and straight. You can also do this sitting up straight in a chair.
· Breathe in as you count slowly to 4 – pause and notice your ribs expanding to the sides, front and back – like you have balloons inflating inside you.
· Breathe in further until you feel you cannot get any more air into your lunges – pause for 2 counts.
· Exhale slowly for 8 counts
· Repeat these 5 -8 times. Be aware of how calm you feel. Ensure you do not get up too quickly.
Stretch and Breathe:
· Lie down on your back, with your spine aligned long and straight, with some space around you.
· With your palms facing upwards, inhale deeply and bring your palms up to shoulder height as you inhale – like a snow angel – if your shoulders are mobile, then take your arms in line with your ears, or higher if you can manage – allow your ribs to flare upwards and your spine to extend – hold the breath in, then exhale slowly with your jaw slightly open (make the sound “haaaa” – softly) as you bring your hands back to your hips, and imagine you are sinking into the floor, allowing your jaw and head to relax as you exhale
· Repeat this 6 – 8 times. Be aware of how relaxed you feel.
· Take your time to stand up again.
Enjoy these exercises – they will help bring you peace, and health. Don’t we all need this?