Can you pass the breath test?

October 21, 2013

Health, Peace / peace of mind, Stress, Yoga

Proper breathing massages the organs, releases toxins, increases oxygen, improves circulation and relaxes the body.

Proper breathing massages the organs, releases toxins, increases oxygen, improves circulation and relaxes the body.

by Mimi Solaire — 

To take the breath test, place your right hand on your chest, your left hand on your abdomen and take a deep breath. As you inhale, do you feel your chest or your abdomen rise? If your felt your chest rise, you are breathing backwards.

Most people do not breathe efficiently. When we are stressed, we breathe from our chests and our breath becomes rapid. As a result, our bodies do not receive the oxygen they need to function properly, and we become tired or ill.

Proper breathing massages the organs, releases toxins, increases oxygen, improves circulation and relaxes the body. Inhalation energizes us by increasing oxygen in the blood. Exhalation relaxes us and releases toxins.

By practicing a few simple breathing techniques, we can calm the mind and body and become aware of our breathing. Breathing exercises are usually done sitting down cross-legged on the floor, but can also be done while sitting in a chair or lying down.

Here are a few techniques to help you become aware of your breathing patterns, increase your energy and help you relax. In the following exercises, breathe in and out through your nose.

1. Breathing for relaxation — Close your eyes and feel your breath pass through your nostrils, across the back of your throat, and into your lungs, diaphragm and abdomen (belly). Notice the length of the inhalation and exhalation. Control the length and quality of your breath by slowing it down. Breathe in for four counts and breathe out for four counts.

Gradually increase the length of the exhalation by one count during each breath cycle (i.e., inhale — four counts, exhale — five counts), until the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation. Continue breathing in for four counts and out for eight counts until you feel relaxed.

Remember to feel the breath in the three areas — lungs, diaphragm and abdomen. By increasing the length of the exhalation, we consciously control our physiology and calm the mind and body.

2. Breathing for rejuvenation — In this method, called spinal breathing, imagine you are breathing in from the top of your head, down through your spine to your tailbone. Breathe fully, deeply and slowly. Then exhale up from your tailbone to the top of your head. Imagine the breath cleansing and massaging your spine. Repeat five times.

Now, breathe through your chest by inhaling into your rib cage. Feel your ribs and chest expand in all directions, as if it were a balloon. Exhale and feel your chest relax. Breathe out tightness in your chest. Repeat five times.

Alternate spinal breathing with the chest breathing five times. As you practice, you will become more aware of your breath and comfortable with correct breathing.

 

Mimi Solaire is a yoga instructor who conducts workshops and classes on relieving chronic pain, back pain and stress. E-mail: yogadance@cox.net or www.mimisolaire.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 4, August/September 2005.

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