Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live (Ezekiel 37:5). We can survive without water for three days and without food much longer but within few minutes of being unable to breathe the brain will starve from oxygen and we wouldn’t be able to live. Restricted breathing has also an adverse effect on our alignment and our movements. Breath is the most amazing, powerful mighty tool that a human being can have for influencing individual health and well-being. We are especially fortunate that it is freely given. Let’s be grateful for this wonderful gift and learn how to use it.
Neuro tips Two powerful words with breath
Are you feeling stressed out? worried? anxious?. I will teach you a quick strategy to get rid of it. Breathing combined with words has a very powerful effect. You can use this technique sitting down or standing making sure that your feet are parallels in line with your knees, sitting on your sitting bones, shoulders down. Eyes closed, arms alongside your body, 1) yawn about six times. Yawning is natures’ way of getting rid of neurological stress.2) Then gently stretch your head side to side, the movement is extremely slow, being completely aware of your body. This stretch is enabling your brain to send a message to your tense muscles and telling them to relax. Sensory awareness (bringing attention to the sensations of tension or/and release in the muscles) makes you be in the moment, it is when you are present, that you are at your best to resolve a problem and thinking creatively. Words have power to change situations and the way you feel (our words have the power to build up or tear down, potential to produce positive or negative consequences).3) Think of one word that has a positive effect on you. 4) Think of an opposite word (antonym) that creates the feeling of wanted to get rid of. Example:” I breathe in COURAGE and I breathe out FEAR or I breathe in PEACE and breathe out DISTRESS.5) Your turn 6) Do your own exploration and check how you feel. Does a certain word make you feel happy? relaxed? Do as many repetitions as you wish until you feel your burden lifted and the power of your negative state dissolved. Go back to the task you were doing as intensively as possible. You will find that you will be more productive and completely refreshed. Do this exercise every hour or whenever you feel stressed.
According to Herb Benson’s research at Harvard, this technique makes you more productive at work and reach peak performance. As you repeat positive “value” words which make sense to you. This “value word” turns on 1200 stress reducing genes.
A bit of anatomy
The diaphragm is the most important muscle for breathing. You can visualize the diaphragm as a lopsided mushroom with two small stem called crura.
When you inhale:
the intercostal muscles contract, expanding the rib cage.( you could imagine the rib cage to be an umbrella)
the diaphragm contracts, pulling downwards to increase the volume of the chest.
Pressure inside the chest is lowered and air is sucked into the lungs.( Basic shape of lungs, think of two balloons with your fists in it or a hollow upside – down tree)
When you exhale:
the intercostal muscles relax, the rib cage drops inwards and downwards
the diaphragm relaxes, moving back upwards, decreasing the volume of the chest.
Pressure inside the chest increases and air is forced out.
Generally, lengthening your expirations (breathe out) is calming and shortening is more energizing
According to Harvard researcher Herbert Benson used scientific research to show that when we use breath as a focus we could alter the body s’ stress response. He also says that breathing can even change the expression of genes and alter the basic activity of cells with your mind. Generally, lengthening your expirations (breathe out) is calming and shortening is more energizing.
Try it for yourself
Breathe with a partner
1) Stand opposite a friend
2) Focus on each other’s breathing. As you both breathe out go down into a plié (squat).
3) As you both breathe in stretch your legs
4) Become aware of how long it takes both of you to breathe in the same rhythm
5) Laugh working the muscles of your jaw, throat, face and many more
6) Cough working the breathing muscles as well as the respiratory ones. Deep muscles of the abdominals as well as the superficial ones ( easy way of working them out if you don’t want to go through the hassle of working them out).
By yourself standing, on your back or sitting
- Imagine your lopsided mushroom with two stem to be an elevator moving up and down in its shaft (your ribs).
- Inhale your mushroom moves down, exhale your mushroom moves up
Lateral costal breathing
Lateral costal breathing is another efficient way of breathing with movement. Joseph Pilates endorsed active inhalation and exhalation according to him it was a very effective way of cleansing the lungs. According to him the muscles of respiration do not work in isolation but are connected to the ribs and the spine and also play a large role in postural control (hence reversing aging, very important to have a good posture).
- standing feet hip width apart in line with your knees and shoulders, shoulders completely relaxed.
- Imagine that you have an accordion under your breast and you are holding it. Breathe in expand your lungs and chest.
- Breathe out expel all the air from your lungs as if you are squeezing the accordion.
- As you inhale and exhale use the entirety of your lungs not the belly
- Avoid pushing your belly out
- Scoop your stomach by contracting your abdominal muscle in and up( imagine you are “buttoning”your belly to your spine
To conclude, we have looked at the power of words how words you can build a person, a situation and it is to be used wisely. Breathing with a value words combined with moves can alter your brain and body’ s response. Finally put everything that you have learned into practice. Remembering that learning new things in a relaxed way helps you to memorize better and helping you to make new neurons’ connection.
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