Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Deep breathing for relaxation

According to an article written by Dr. Marcelle Pick, from, deep breathing is the fastest way to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, through the relaxation response.

"Further review and analysis of research by Drs. Brown and Gerbarg resulted in the development of a new neuropsychological theory for how yogic breathing may affect the stress response system and calm the mind and body. Their recent article in Current Psychiatry shows how trained deep breathing can relieve trauma symptoms.

The sympathetic nervous system, which is stimulated in times of stress and anxiety, controls your fight or flight response, including spikes in cortisol and adrenaline that can be damaging when they persist too long."

Deep breathing is good for your blood cells, it oxygenates your body, it helps the lymphatic system drain our bodies of toxins, it helps beat anxiety and depression, as well as eating disorders. If you breathed more deeply, you could beat that fatigue that's getting you done, and clear up the mental fog. It also helps beat stress.

"As many of you know, chronic stress depletes the body of nutrients and destabilizes brain and endocrine chemistry. Depression, muscle tension and pain, insulin sensitivity, GI issues, insomnia, and adrenal fatigue among scores of other conditions are all related to an overworked sympathetic nervous system. What counteracts this mechanism? The parasympathetic nervous system.

Breath is the fastest medium by which these systems can communicate, flicking the switch from high alert to low in a matter of seconds."

"So often, women make time for everyone else, rising to meet the demands of others before they nurture themselves. Learning how to breathe more fully and deeply is a very small but vital way to honor yourself and your miraculous life. In many cultures and religions, breath is life — a divine connection to a force that binds us all to the ebb and flow of nature.

By taking a few moments in your day to really pay attention to the inhalation and exhalation that supports your life, you will slowly and surely move toward a healthier and happier place. Remember, small changes add up to big improvements — and what better way to begin than breathing?"

What better way indeed? if combined with gentle exercise like walking or yoga, you may have a winning stress-beating combination.

take care, and remember to breathe deeply,

here's the three part breath we do in yoga: (again, from Dr Pick's article, I love the womentowomen web site)

This yoga technique is very useful during times of stress, or at any time you need to relax. It is extremely relaxing and can be done before bed to assist with sleep issues.

Again, sit comfortably and close your eyes. With your mouth closed, exhale deeply through your nose. Imagine that you are pouring the breath out of a jug, starting at the top of your chest and moving down through your mid-torso and into your diaphragm. Pause for two counts at the bottom of the breath, then inhale through your nose.

Refill the “jug” slowly, counting to five (or seven if you can make it). Start at the bottom, expanding your diaphragm and belly, then your mid-torso, and lastly the top of your chest and lungs. Pause for two counts and exhale as before. Repeat 5–10 times.

There are many other ways to begin practicing healthy deep breathing. Visit the Authentic Breathing website for additional exercises and information. Your local yoga studio or health club may offer classes in breathing awareness techniques. There are many good books on the subject, including Dennis Lewis’s The Tao of Natural Breathing and Conscious Breathing, by Gay Hendricks.


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