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Breathe Into 2019

“Breathing is the most important thing we do, but the thing we pay the least amount of attention to,” says Belisa Vranich, a clinical psychologist and the author of Breathe. “Our breathing has gotten so dysfunctional that we think it’s normal,” she says. Research shows that as you improve your attention to breathing and your breath it increases levels of mindfulness and helps you be better equipped to fight anxiety, sleep better and exercise harder. As we move into 2019 our focus can simply be directed to our breathing. Increased awareness about your breathing can add to a sense of well-being and improve your personal quality of life.


1. When you are stressed

You are in the middle of a work project or something stressful at home, and it’s not going well. You won’t even notice, but your natural reaction is to take quick and shallow breaths, which actually increases your body’s stress response. “the fastest way too stop anxiety is to slow your breathing down to about five breaths per minute,” Breathe gently and naturally without overfilling your lungs and without forcing the air out. Focus on your body relaxing and being fully present.

2. While exercising

During a high intensity workout, martial arts or yoga, the breath is an important part of getting the most out of your exercise routine. Experts say that by breathing oxygen into certain areas of your body and using the breath you can actualize a more effective workout. For example, if you are having anxiety and gastrointestinal problems, imagine breathing through your stomach.

3. Breathe to increase concentration

For times when you need to hunker down, Gerbarg recommends taking a few short, forceful breaths. Breathe in sharply and breath out forcefully while shouting “Ha! Aim for 20 breaths per minute; do them for no more than 3 – 5 minutes. Martial arts and certain yoga poses use this kind of breathing to move stagnant energy from the lower parts of the body up and out of the body by using the breath.

4. When you are in pain

Whether you’ve just stubbed your toe, you’re nursing a splitting headache or you have a painful chronic condition, the way you breathe may bring relief. In one small study published in Pain Medicine, volunteers who used a deep, slow breathing technique had a higher pain threshold when their skin was exposed to a very hot or very cold stimulus.

5. While falling asleep

For people, who have trouble drifting off, Michael Breus, a board-certified sleep specialist in private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona recommends trying deep breathing at bedtime. “this will slow your heart rate down considerably and can be an entry-way to sleep onset,” he explains. Breus recommends diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or abdominal breathing. To do it, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Breathe through your nose for about two seconds, with your belly moving outward more than your chest. As you breathe out, gently press your belly, which will push up on your diaphragm and help you get air out repeat until you feel yourself getting sleepy.

Turn to your breath to move slow and steady, deep and focused as you move into the new year. A healthy dose of more intentional breathing can increase your sense of mindfulness and well-being. Use the power of breath to find refuge in your daily life. Make your breath be your focus as you open up channels for joy, peace, and presence.

Happy New Year! Pam


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