Just Breathe

Awareness and Action

How to take control of your body’s unconscious functions through your lungs.

Take a minute to notice your breathe.

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I will wait.

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Is your breath slow? Or fast?

Is your breathe deep? Or shallow?

Does your belly expand as you inhale?

Do your shoulders rise as you inhale?

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Quick and shallow breathing can be a sign of a stress response in your body.

For more information about the physiological responses to stress READ HERE. For more information about how to notice those responses READ HERE.

As you know, you will not stop breathing if you stop thinking about your breath; it is part of the unconscious functions or your body. However, if you focus on your breathe, you can control the speed and depth of your breathing.

By taking control of your breathe you can have an effect on the rest of your automatic nervous system. You can trigger your body to switch from fight or flight/stress response of the sympathetic nervous system responses to rest and digest or parasympathetic nervous system responses.

This is a major function of meditation and yoga and many other practices that are designed to help you control your body’s stress response. These practices help maintain homeostasis in your body. You do not need to go completely into any of these practices just to take control of your breathe and help your body relax.

I work, in person – one to one, with a lot of people who start out telling me that they do not know how to relax. They come to me for a massage or for a one to one self-care session or any other service that I offer…I start by explaining to them why taking control of their breathe is helpful to their automatic nervous system responses and such (the stuff that I already talked about in previous posts…links above).

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You are welcome to follow along with this practice, but make sure that you are sitting down, laying down, in a place where you can relax, and not operate heaving machinery.

I will wait again.

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Then we start practicing good breathing together. A good breathe starts in your belly and moves it’s way up as you inhale more fully. As you exhale, in order to tell your automatic nervous system to switch over to parasympathetic nervous system response, relax your jaw and sigh your breathe out.

Place your hand on your abdomen as you inhale, feel your belly rise, expand, as the breathe fills your belly and low in your lungs. Keep your jaw open and relaxed, no clenching, just let that air exhale softly sighing.

As the breathe goes in, your belly expands and let’s the breathe get low, low, low, low, low, low, low into your abdomen. Open your mouth and sigh the exhale, be sure not to push the air out too hard you are not blowing out candles on a birthday cake.

As you inhale let that breathe reach low into your abdomen. As you sigh your exhale let your shoulders drop.

Inhale deep into your abdomen. Sigh your exhale and let the rest of the muscles of your body melt into your chair or bed or wherever you are.

Inhale, deep into your abdomen. Exhale, sigh, and think about letting go. Let go of your physical stress, let go of any tightness you feel in your body.

Inhale, as your abdomen expands the breathe fills all of the spaces. Exhale with a soft jaw, sighing the air out. With each breathe continue to let go of physical, and emotional stress.

Continue breathing this way for at least 5 to 15 minutes and notice the difference in your body. Using this practice anytime you notice that your body is tense, you notice those stress responses happening in your body, and at least once a day to help your body stay in a parasympathetic nervous system response.

Just BREATHE.

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