It’s no coincidence that ancient philosophies and current wellness practices have controlled breathing techniques in common, Taoism, yoga, pilates, Thai Chi, and karate, to name a few. These were perhaps influenced by religious practices such as Buddhist meditation, Hindu Yoga, and even Christianity has an ancient practice called Hesychasm. So, the rise of conscious breathing is actually just a resurgence, we are relearning, and you have a wealth of options to do this, including yoga, pilates, meditation, self-hypnosis or you can even attend a breathing workshop.
But seriously, are breathing exercises just another thing you need to add to your daily ‘to do’ list, essentially causing you more stress? The science says that you should. As these techniques have gained in popularity, deep slow breathing has been investigated and numerous studies claim to have uncovered significant benefits.
Have a think about how your body responds to negative stress, your heartbeat may increase, some people get headaches or backache, they may sweat excessively, or have a nervous feeling in their tummy. Rapid breathing is another symptom of stress, diarrhoea, insomnia and the list goes on, these are physical reactions to stress, and we know that continued stress on the body has long term health consequences.
Stress causes our automatic nervous system to go into fight or flight mode, releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. In turn, relaxation has a positive effect on our body; when we relax our parasympathetic nervous system takes over and switches off that fight or flight mode. Stress and relaxation are intuitive, they are part of us, we need stress to motivate us and we need relaxation to counter the effects of stress in our bodies, to repair ourselves and keep our bodies in balance. Many people live lives of constant low-level stress, we must be mindful that our bodies need to redress the balance and reset the nervous system.
Deep conscious breathing from our diaphragms induces the parasympathetic nervous system to switch on and physically relax our bodies. It is a signal to the body that now it time for relaxation.
Not only does the science show these effects on the nervous system, it has also been shown to aid our cardiovascular and respiratory systems giving us benefits such as decreased blood pressure, relaxed brain waves, reduction of inflammation, better blood flow and positive effects on our immune systems.
So, it seems incorporating some conscious deep breathing into our lives has many health benefits. Hypnotherapy is another practice that utilizes the breath and extols the virtues. Many people come to me stressed and overwhelmed with their feelings, and I want to treat them to a session of deep relaxation, this starts with some conscious breathing. I remain aware of their breaths throughout the session, using my voice to pace their breathing and make sure they are feeling relaxed. Imagine an hour to yourself just to physically relax the body and switch off from the world, it can be thoroughly rejuvenating. The effects don’t last forever but most report back that for a least the rest of that day they felt extremely relaxed, rested and almost as if they were floating. I also teach many of my client’s self-hypnosis which uses controlled breathing to aid trance and allow you some time to relax or focus on problem solving.
If you would like to experience deep relaxation to destress and rejuvenate please contact me for a hypnotherapy session and if you wish to learn to practice at home, I can teach you self-hypnosis. Alternatively try the 4-7-8 method, breathe out completely then take a breath in through you nose for 4 seconds, hold in for 7 seconds, next breathe out to the count of 8 seconds through your mouth.