One of our greatest tools to find peace and calm in our lives is our breath.
Breath is powerful. There is a strong connection between our breath and our emotions, and we can very quickly shift ourselves into a higher vibration by changing the way we breathe. Did you know that breathing is the only physiological process in our body that we can control? Yes! Breathing is the only physiological process in our body that we can control. We can consciously change it, or we can just let it be and let the body breathe on its own. We can use the breath to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, to feel immediately more calm, peaceful and grounded.
To get a bit technical for a moment...your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for restoring your body to a state of calm. The vagus nerve governs the parasympathetic nervous system and is the main nerve that connects your brain to all major organs in your body. Lengthening your exhalations is one of the ways you can tone the vagus nerve, sending signals to your nervous system that you are safe, and allowing your body to enter a state of calm.
So I invite you to try the Calming Breath. This is all about noticing and manipulating the length of your inhalations and exhalations. It can be done anytime you need to find your calm, anywhere. And it takes just a few minutes! The idea is to lengthen your exhalations to approximately twice the length of your inhalations. Even if you can’t hold the pause between breaths, this will still tone your vagus nerve and calm your nervous system. Here’s how to do CALMING BREATH:
- Sit comfortably with your spine tall, as though you were sitting for meditation, and settle in for this precious breathing practice.
- Take a few relaxed, slow, deep breaths to get centred, then allow your breath to find its natural rhythm. You are going to ease yourself into this practice, so go slowly and allow yourself the time to adjust.
- Start by equalizing the length of your inhalations and exhalations to the count of 4: inhale 4 and exhale 4. Practice this for several breaths.
- Then maintain the count of 4 on your inhalation and slowly start to lengthen your exhalations…exhale 6, 7, or 8 counts…whatever feels good for you today. Continue with your lengthened exhalations.
- Then, start to add in a pause after your inhalation - starting a count of one or two, and see what is possible to maintain comfortably today. Then experiment with lengthening that pause. You want to work a ratio of inhale to the count of 4, hold to the count of 7, then exhale to the count of 8. This is something you can work towards over time.
- Practice for at least 5 minutes, and perhaps as long as 10 or more, and notice how you feel.
How did you feel during this practice? Did it take a while to find your rhythm? How do you feel after?
Breath is life. It is a living energy and active force within our being. Every single cell in our body requires the oxygen we breathe to function properly. And the only way to get oxygen to all those cells is by inhaling and exhaling. The quality of our breathing has a profound effect on our physical and mental health and wellbeing. To learn more about this vital life-force, discover The Science of Breathing on the HUM Life blog.