Dear Movers and Breathers,
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Back in PV
I recently returned to Puerto Vallarta, a little later than usual so I could have cataract surgery on both eyes in Oregon before I returned to PV. I am now nearly bionic, with a pacemaker installed last March and now Intraocular lenses (IOLs) in both eyes. Neither of these procedures get in the way of moving or breathing and they probably enhance both.
This column is going to focus on breath. Focusing on your own breathing can have a significant impact on your well-being and your stress levels. Pay attention to the tips here and change your life.
Importance of Breath
Breathing is essential to our survival & our good health. We take about 20,000 breaths a day & 8 million breaths a year. Breathing is automatic, involuntary, & continuous. You do not have to consciously think about it. But you can. Breathing is unique in that it is the only bodily function that can happen automatically but can also be controlled by the breather.
Learning to use the breath consciously can be a very powerful tool for reducing stress & increasing well-being & good health. Voluntary breath control, or pranayama, has been practiced for centuries in yoga & meditation. If you already have a breathing practice, stick with it. There are many breathing practices associated with yoga and meditation. In this column, I am going to mention just a few simple breathing practices to get you started or slow you down.
Start using any of these simple breath exercise below to help you to use your breath as a free, easy, do it yourself way to reduce your stress level & improve your health. These simple practices will stimulate brain growth, improve heart rate variability, low stress levels, reduce anxiety and negative emotions, reduce testing and performance anxiety, lower blood pressure, trigger a relaxation response in the nervous system, and boost the immune system.
Pure Awareness of Breath
Simply becoming aware of your breath is a very simple and effective way to change your breathing patterns and nourish your body, mind, and spirit. Take the following steps.
1. Find a quiet space, lying down (supine), seated, or standing.
2. Become aware of your breath
3. Notice the inhale. Notice the exhale.
4. Notice how the breath is moving in your body. Is breathing easier in one part of your body than another? There are no right or wrong answers, just observation.
5. Can you stay here and watch your breath without trying to change it.
6. This practice is about awareness alone. We do not usually spend time observing the breath, but we are now.
7. Notice any changes. Can you allow your breath to change without any action on your part?
8. Can you notice whether your body and mind quiets and settles as you continue to watch your breathing?
9. Stay here for 2 or 3 or 5 minutes, or more.
10. This simple practice in breath awareness is available to you wherever you are and whenever you choose it.
11. Pure Awareness of Breath is the easiest way to start to claim and experience the many benefits of breath work.
Breathing with a focus on the belly is another simple way to change your breathing pattern. Here are the steps:
1. Find a quiet space, lying down (supine), seated, or standing.
2. Breath in. Breath out. Take a few minutes to become aware of your breath. (See description above for Pure Awareness of Breath).
3. Place one or both hands on your belly at the naval. This is optional if you are in a public place, but it helps with awareness of the breathing pattern in belly breathing.
4. Inhale and allow the muscles around your belly to relax.
5. As you inhale, your belly will rise and the diaphragm will contract, pushing the organs in your abdominal cavity down and out.
6. Exhale, allowing your belly to fall as the diaphragm recedes back into the rib case and organs return to their original position.
7. Keep it relaxed and easy.
8. Repeat this pattern of breathing and watch the belly rise and fall. Stay here for 2, 4, 5, 10 minutes.
9. Repeat throughout the day and especially when you need a “time-out” from stress or overload.
Belly breathing is an easy practice that massages the abdominal organs and calms the mind. It improves posture and strengthens core muscles. It reduces that tension and tightness in the neck and shoulders that are created when chest breathing is dominant. It is available wherever you are whenever you choose it.
An app to support your breathing practice
MyCalmBeat is an app by MyBrainSolutions that is available online and also as an application to download on your smart phone. I use it for myself and my clients to support personal best breathing. This app calculates the personal best breathing rate for the user (where you are the calmest) and then helps you train by breathing at that rate. Your personal best breathing rate is unique to you and does not change. It reflects the physical properties of your cardiovascular system.
I recommend using MyCalmBeat to train every day for about 10 minutes. But just like any exercise, the more you do it, the bigger the benefit. Consistent training helps to strength calm responses in your body that help to manage stress. The app can be used before a stressful event or an important presentation, before sleep, or when you are experiencing pain.
I love to recommend this app to my clients, especially the ones who love to use technology to support their healthy lifestyles. Try it, you might like it!
Thank you, Dear Readers, for letting me drop into your lives for a little while. I hope the information I shared in this column will help you recognize the importance of breathing well and help you create an effective breathing practice.
If I can answer any questions or help you move and breath better, please contact me at www.intelligentmovementforever.com or [email protected] to schedule a private session with me. Contact me to get details about my “Via is Back” special and my private session rates for PV locals and friends.
I am presenting a workshop on December 20, 4-7 pm at Davannayoga on “Creating a Pain-Free Yoga Practice.” I hope you can come. This workshop does not require any yoga experience because it is about the yoga of movement and moving purely with awareness and breath. Contact Davannayoga to register for the workshop.
My mission is to help people unlock their intelligent, pain-free movement for better performance and healthy longevity. Would love to hear from you if that strikes a chord.
So grateful to be alive and moving well,