Whole Health. Whole Food. Whole Life.
Simple truth .............
If you are not breathing, you are not alive!
...and, if it is that important, then we need to be aware of our breath.
Breathing and living are not separate at all .... no wonder, then, that one affects the other in an intricate dance twenty four hours of the day. What you see, say, think and do affects your breathing. It is easy to be more aware of this: think of when you receive astonishing news, or a child races toward a busy road, or you relax in a comfortable chair..... but what a lot of us don't realise is that the opposite is also true: your breathing affects how you think, feel and perceive.
Breathe to improve the health of your body and your mind with regular breathing exercises, whenever you are conscious of it...waiting at the traffic lights, trying to sleep, or taking a few minutes out when you are busy at work.
The Mind-Body Connection
Our amazing, miraculous bodies perform many functions without us being consciously aware of them:
our heart beating, digestion, nutrient absorption, blood pressure, our immune system, balancing on two feet - just to name a few .....and breathing.
Breathing, though, is different to other autonomic functions - we can choose to take this over consciously! This is extremely useful to remember, as our breathing affects not only those functions that we cannot regulate, but also our emotions and wellbeing.
By being aware of breathing we can:
reduce stress and the effects of stressful events
improve our circulation
improve our digestion
increase mindfulness and alter how we think
improve our sleep
increase our alertness and improve our ability to concentrate
The Yin & Yang of Breathing
Our breathing rate helps us survive in times of stress and escape danger -
and then to rest and repair....
but, are we upsetting the balance between damage and repair that nature intended?
Fight or Flight
When we are under any kind of stress, our breathing becomes faster and more shallow - our "sympathetic nervous system" is switched on:
Our heart rate increases to pump blood to our muscles - ready for action !
Our blood pressure increases ..... we become tense and hypervigilent.
Stress hormomes, especially adrenaline - and in the longer term, cortisol - stream through our
body and, unconsciously, we become focussed only on survival NOW.
Everything else not required for survival is shut down (depending on the degree of stress):
immunity, reproduction, digestion, emotion processing and complex decision making.
This is why we are not logical when we are very stressed, why we can't concentrate or make good decisions, why our tummy's play up - remember the "butterflies" or even nausea (or worse!) before an important exam or speech? You may have noticed that this is a time you will often succumb to a cold. We may also develop temporary reproductive issues (missed ovulation or erectile dysfunction for example). Although essential for survival, all of this has a price - it is damaging. So when the danger is passed, there needs to be.......
Healing and Repairing
Our breathing becomes deep and slow, we engage our "parasympathetic nervous system":
Our heart rate slows. Resting, relaxing and sleeping become a priority. We all know the "aaaaaah!" factor, and it is very important for healing the damage done while in Fight or Flight:
our mind calms, our appetite returns, we reboot our immune system, we re-engage our conscious mind, experience the feel good endorphines and our bodies undergo repair....
We are not designed
to be constantly in
Fight or Flight Mode!
Our modern lifestyles with artificial stressors, electronic devices, and our constant ignoring of life's rhythms are proving too much of a challenge for many of us, and the result is devastating for our health....
We need to become more mindful of our stressors - our body's responses do not know the difference between the stress of an attacking tribe, and the five o'clock deadline on your overdue report! Sit down on the park bench in the sun - be aware of the beauty around you .... take 5, and BREATHE !!
Watch Dr Weil's video to learn the 4-7-8 breathing technique - this breathing is the first step on the journey to improving your health and wellbeing,