Take a DEEP breath...
We start life with one, then spend the rest of our lives taking it for granted. It has the ability to cleanse the body, calm the mind, reduce pain, balance hormones and improve overall physical performance. Just imagine if you found a product that could guarantee all of this in minutes... who wouldn't buy one?! And yet, we are all fortunate enough to have it available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and absolutely free!
What is this miracle cure?
Quite simply... DEEP breathing...
DEEP breathing triggers the sending of a signal to part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is connected to the pituitary gland and together they link the nervous system to the endocrine system (the body's hormone secretion centre) which in turn regulates all activities throughout the body including our heart rate and blood pressure. Put simply, by DEEP breathing correctly, you can reduce stress and anxiety.
We start off well... As infants we breathe efficiently, slow and low into the abdominal region, regulating physical and emotional balance, and maintaining a healthy diaphragm (the body's primary breathing muscle). A couple of decades ago you would expect to see this DEEP breathing pattern in children potentially into their early teens. However, the mechanism used to breathe regresses with age and significantly contributes to a deterioration in our overall health. Nowadays this occurs much faster, we become lazy breathers and rely too much on our accessory breathing muscles.
So why does our breathing pattern change?
The main reason is bad posture, but for the sake of modern day life, let's label it... 'iSyndrome'... With advances in technology, particularly the evolution of smartphones, news has never travelled as fast. It's great... you can find out whatever you want, from whoever you want, whenever you want! Or is it? The most common cause of DEEP breath suppression is poor posture. We're all using technology far more than ever before, and with that comes a two-fold attack on the body. Firstly, the amount of time spent in a poor posture is greater. We collapse at the ribcage, lean forward, round our shoulders and poke our heads out, all to see the handheld screen - this literally suppresses the diaphragm from functioning efficiently. Secondly, we have information to hand, all day, every day, that has the ability to shift your emotions instantly - whether good or bad - what you read will alter your hormone release and via the hypothalamus, potentially suppress your diaphragm function - "It took my breath away!" We think it's great how quickly kids pick up the function of a smartphone, joking how they could teach us how to use them. But the reality facing all of us now is that with increased frequency of smartphone use, comes poor health. Consider your diaphragm another way. It runs along the bottom of the ribcage effectively establishing itself as the 'floor of the heart' and the 'ceiling of the stomach'. Just behind it on the spine is the aorta, the main blood supply line of the body. There are 2 hiatuses (openings) in the diaphragm; one to return blood to the heart from the lower body (vena cava); and one to allow food to the stomach (oesophageal). Compression of your diaphragm will lead to suppression of these functions and subsequent deterioration of your health.
So when was the last time you took a DEEP breath?
It's really simple...
1. Correct your posture. Align your body in a relaxed position whether laying down, sitting high or standing tall.
2. Open up your trunk. Shoulders and collarbones wide.
3. Focus on a Slow and Low breath into the abdominal area. If it helps, place a hand over your navel and breathe under it.
4. Hold the breath in for a few seconds, then slowly breathe out, consciously relaxing any areas that feel tight.
5. Repeat... Repeat... Repeat... Wherever... Whenever