Physiological & Emotional Connectivity through Breath
Perhaps the most essential physiological rhythm, we often dedicate very little of our thought and awareness to breathing. Considering the average person at rest breathes 12 to 20 times per minute, or 17,280 to 28,800 times per day, arguably this is a process we should give a little more consideration to.
Like in life, there are so many important things we take very little notice of until they are gone. Unfortunately the breath can be just the same – commonly taken for granted unless suddenly not available. The great news is there are life-changing techniques we can all learn to help us not only significantly increase our lung capacity and deliver more oxygen to the cells and vital organs of body yet also strengthen our emotional connectivity which will help reduce stress and enhance our overall feelings of peace and wellbeing.
The breath is fascinating:
- The average person at rest breathes 12 to 20 times per minute, or 17,280 to 28,800 times per day
- Every breath supplies life-sustaining oxygen to your cells and vital organs while carrying away our waste product carbon dioxide.
- Short, shallow breath stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which activates the fight or flight response. The body goes into a heightened state of arousal and is focused on survival. Stress and anxiety levels increase as a result.
- The Diaphragm is our main muscle of respiration. Like all other muscles in the body, the diaphragm can be strengthened and become more efficient over time.
- Our most critical source of energy is oxygen.
- Breathing is both conscious and unconscious, voluntary and involuntary.
- We do have control over our breath. We can learn life-changing techniques to help us deepen our lung capacity, slow our respiration rate, and improve our overall health and wellbeing.
Core Essentials – Multi-Dimensional Breathing
Multi-dimensional breathing is just one of many breathing techniques you can practice that has a host of powerful benefits. Begin by lying down on your back, softening your shoulders away from your ears, and allowing your lower back and pelvis to gently settle. Allow your feet to turn out slightly so your hips soften and you can rest comfortably. Fold your arms, gently resting your palms on your belly and allowing your middle fingers to meet gently.
Exhale all of your breath out. Draw a slow deep breath in, filling and expanding your belly, and feeling the belly fill the palms and middle fingers separate slightly as the belly rises. Slowly and completely exhale, softening the belly and gently drawing the navel in towards your spine. Your middle fingers should gently graze one another again. Repeat for a minimum of 10 breath cycles (1 inhalation + 1 exhalation = 1 breath cycle). Feel the rise of your belly on the inhalation and the fall of your belly on the exhalation as you breathe slowly and fluidly.
Slide your palms up to your rib cage, placing them a little wider apart than before (middle fingers no longer touching at relaxation). Exhale all of your breath out. Draw a slow deep breath in, filling and expanding your belly and then lifting the breath all the way up to fill and expand your rib cage. Notice that upon inhalation, the ribs lift both up and out to the sides, expanding holistically in a multitude of directions. Slowly and completely exhale, feeling the ribs soften and release and the navel then drawing back and in towards your spine. Repeat for a minimum of 10 breath cycles, breathing slowly and fluidly.
Finally, slide your palms all the way up to rest on your lungs, just below your clavicle (collarbone). Draw a slow deep breath in, filling and expanding your belly, then drawing the breath all the way up to fill and expand your rib cage, and then finally lifting the breath all the way up to fill and expand your lungs. Notice that the lift is much more subtle to the touch at the lungs and is more difficult to palpate than at the belly and the ribs. This is because the muscles of the diaphragm cannot be palpated here and are more readily felt near the belly and ribs. Slowly and completely exhale, feeling the lungs soften, the ribs release as you draw them in and down, and return the navel to the spine. Repeat for a minimum of 10 breath cycles, breathing slowly and fluidly. Upon completion, release palms from body, allow breath to return to a natural and steady rhythm.
Try introducing this practice in the evening before bed. Mutli-dimensional breathing is one of the most effective and affordable sleep medications!