In a world where so much illness is a product of stress, learning how to neutralize stress through breathing becomes a sacred tool for healing. Breath is one of the most effective tools we have to calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and decrease heart rate. After you become accomplished and aware of breath’s power in your life, you will wonder how you ever lived without this awareness.
Breathing is a great indicator of health. Breath connects us to ourselves overall. When we feel separate from the breath, we get frustrated by our breath’s attempts to wake us up. In moments of tension, do you shorten the breath or gasp in fear? Without practice and knowledge of conscious breathing, we do the opposite when our sympathetic nervous systems are activated. It is common to suck the breath in and hold it until the threat has lessened. This further alarms our nervous system and inhibits our ability to deal with the challenges holistically.
When you take a shallow breath, the breath only moves to the upper thoracic, the collarbone, which has limited benefits for your overall system. It is in this state of shallow breathing that you feel the breath as a burden rather than a valuable healing tool. When prompted to take a deep breath, some people incorrectly have the instinct to clench their bellies during the deep inhale, constricting the lungs and leaving no place for the air to go. The great news is that there is a solution, one you can access easily if you are willing to learn.
Let’s learn how to take a healing yogic breath instead!
1. Sit in a chair or on the ground in a position that allows your spine the ability to lengthen. Use whatever pillows or props you need to make this position as comfortable as possible.
2. Sit tall and feel the crown of your head reaching toward the sky.
3. Tip your chin just enough to lengthen the back of the neck, so your breath can flow freely.
4. Place your hands on your belly and breathe as you normally breathe. Notice: Is your belly pulling in when you take a breath or is it pushing out? If your belly pulls in on the inhale, your breath will be shallow, with the air entering only the upper part of your lungs. When your belly expands with the inhale, your lungs inflate like a balloon and are filled with fresh air. This is the correct way to practice the Long Deep Breath.
5. Keep your hands on your belly as you practice. Inhale. Feel your chest lift and your belly and ribs expand. If your breath doesn’t make it to your belly at first, don’t worry. Allow it to go where it feels most natural, and over the course of time, work toward moving it deeper and deeper into your body. With practice and dedication, it will happen.
6. Exhale. Feel your belly and ribs release and deflate, first from your belly and up to your chest. Let all the air from your lungs go.
7. Start again.
8. Repeat the breath for 3 minutes.
As you do this simple practice, meditate on where you have been holding pain and how much it has been troubling you. It might be physical, mental, or emotional; use the breath to investigate its origin. Then ask yourself if you are willing to release it, soften to it rather than resist it. Ask yourself, what would life feel like without it? How can I change the way I move, respond, and feel to strengthen this part of me that has been hurting for so long?
My work views all the elements of being a human—the physical, emotional, and mental—as deeply intertwined… It is from this whole-person perspective that we can best identify the underlying causes of our struggles and empower ourselves to heal.
There are many ways I can help you no matter where you are on your life’s path. Let’s start with my books and the membership program.
The Tribe Inside~A Self Healers’ Circle: https://sarahbrassard.com/tribe-inside/
Inside~ A Guide to the Resources Within, here: https://amzn.to/2ViV1Nw
The companion journal to Inside here: https://amzn.to/2xZdAP0
Learn more here: https://sarahbrassard.com/