“Its important to breathe with your abdomen and not just your chest” Dr. Frank Lipman
Breathing is not just for your lungs – its for your whole body.
Too often we squeeze our bellies in when we inhale. This only restricts our intake of vital prana and oxygen, and shrinks the way we experience life – not too mention the sucking in of worry and stress.
Belly breathing gently invites our tummy to soften, relax and unwind. It helps release any anxiety and stress we may be holding onto.
Belly breathing puts the whole body in rest and digest mode.
Another plus of belly breathing is that it cleverly creates a lovely healthy distance between you and the busyness of the outside world.
It directs your energy and attention inwards.
Belly breathing gets you get out of your head, even if its just for a moment which in turn helps settle and calm any anxious feelings.
- Belly breathing is great for grounding and centring your energies and bringing more energy into your body.
- Opens up your body and relaxes your muscles
- Releases tension
- Gives a gentle massage to your organs
- Invites blood flow to the extremities of your body
- Helps empty your lungs
- Activates your parasympathetic nervous system (relaxation response)
- Brings you into the present moment
Simple guide to belly breathing:
Step 1: Breathe in through your nose:
Yogic breathing teaches that your nose is for breathing and your mouth for eating. Inhale and exhale through your nose when you breathe.
Step 2: Prepare the body – Drop your shoulders:
Bunched up shoulders plus tight neck = restricted breathing.
Tightness in your neck and shoulders also blocks the flow of blood to your brain.
Step 3: Feel your body:
Its important to get out of your head and feel into your body. Notice your body. Give your body full attention. As Eckhart Tolle says “Most illnesses creep in when we are not present in our body”
Feel your back against chair, hands on your lap and feet on the ground. If you are lying down feel your body, arms, legs, torso and head resting on your yoga mat.
Step 4: Place your hands on your belly:
To help direct the breath down into your belly it often helps to place your hands just below the belly button. This allows you feel the rise of the belly on the inhale, and the fall of the belly on the exhale.
Step 5: Breathe into your belly:
Let your breath breathe you. Never force. Be gentle.
Keep your hand and awareness on your belly – and very soon you’ll be able to feel your breath arrive (into your belly).
Notice how your belly slightly expands, spreads and rises on the inhale.
Breathe into the front, sides and back of your belly area – invite your breath to fill your entire abdomen area, down to your hips, pelvic area and lower back. You can even move your hands to rest on the sides of your lower waist and feel the ribs ever so slightly push outwards on the inhale.
Remember each breath is a sign that life and energy is moving through you.
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