Just Breathe – How Our Breathing Hurts and
Heals the Body and Mind
When the pressure is mounting
and your to-do list seems endless,
very often your breathing will
suffer. When you are not breathing
properly, your body isn’t getting the
oxygen it needs, and you will start
to feel unwell. When you are in a
stressful situation, take five
minutes to focus on breathing
deeply. Flush out your lungs and
take even, deep breaths for some
needed stress relief. This will calm
your mind and body and give you a
When I hear people talking about how un-focused, stressed, fatigued, or
overwhelmed they are, the first recommendation I make is to just breathe. The
Sometimes you simply aren’t able
simple act of breathing deeply and fully can alone have profound effects on the
to block off a larger chunk of time
body and mind.
to do something relaxing. Perhaps
deadlines are looming or you’re
In going about our day, breathing isn’t something we pay much attention to. Many
facing an especially busy season.
people are shallow breathers, meaning they primarily only breath into the chest
Meditation can bring immediate
area (thoracic breathing) or conversely are breathing into the lower lungs and
stress relief, and can be an
diaphragm area while the upper lungs are neglected. In either case, the lungs are
invaluable tool in long-term stress
not adequately filling with air. Women who focus on keeping the belly pulled in are
submitting their bodies to chronic shallow breathing and tight fitting clothing can
meditation will help you to quickly
also restrict proper breathing.
clear your mind of negative
stressors as you slip into a state of
Negative Effects of Shallow Breathing
relaxation and peace. Learning
effective meditation does take time
With shallow breathing, less oxygen is supplied not only to the body, but also to
and discipline, but it is a proven
the brain. So, it’s no surprise that inability to focus, lack of clear thinking, fatigue,
stress-buster for anyone who
stress, and anxiety can follow.
Even more dangerous is the effects of shallow breathing on the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and also plays an important
role in the body’s immunity. When our lymphatic system is sluggish, cells are
receiving less oxygen, less nutrients, and toxins build up in the tissues. Cancer is
an example of a low oxygen related disease and shortness of breath is also
EXERCISE scientifically linked to heart disease.
You don’t have to schedule a full
workout at the gym every day to Poor breathing is also the cause of or can worsen asthma, arthritis, anxiety,
reap the stress relieving benefits of fatigue, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and weight
exercise. Even a ten minute walk disorders, among other conditions.
in the fresh air and sunshine can 1. CountingBreaths
do wonders for you. The change of
scenery gets your mind off the Breathing and Emotions
work for a time and the exercise
will help you to breathe deeply. To take control of our emotions, we must take control of our breath. At different
While it’s great if you can get points in my life, I have suffered from stress, anxiety and depression. Breathing
vigorous exercise regularly or has been key in helping me through these times and is always the first place I
some bodybuilding workouts, just a start when a stressful situation arises.
small amount of exercise daily can
bring a great amount of stress With stress, anxiety and depression, our breathing and our nervous system are
relief. out of balance. Deep breathing stimulates the relaxation response in the body,
calming the nervous system and the mind.
When your work is overwhelming, Make Better Breathing a Daily Habit
it can be very tempting to neglect
yourself – especially in areas like When you wake up in the morning take a few moments to breathe deeply and
nutrition. Substituting a quick begin to awaken the body. This is also a great time to set an intention and some
snack or soda for a meal might positive expectations for your day.
save you some time immediately,
but in the long run it will hurt your
health and make you even more
susceptible to the effects of stress.
A healthy diet will bring overall
physical and emotional wellness.
Throughout the day, take breathing breaks. Stand up and stretch, take a deep
breath and let out a sigh. Repeat several times if it feels good. This helps release
built up tension and stagnant energy. While you are at it, do a few shoulder and
hip opening stretches (see my De-Stress at Your Desk blog). All together, you can
pull this off in 5 minutes or less and the return on your short time investment is
When your to-do list seems a mile
long, playing may be the last thing
you feel like doing. It might seem
Breathe while you drive. This is an excellent time to take some deep belly breaths
frivolous or like a waste of time
to stay alert, focused and calm. Actually, breathe any time throughout the day that
initially, but taking time to relax with
you think of it!
family or friends can be some of
the best stress relief therapy.
In the evening as you slip into bed, breathe long, slow, deep breaths to calm the
Laughter releases tension and
body and mind. Choose one of the breathing exercises listed below and practice
provides a better outlook. Simple
for 1-5 minutes. A great accompaniment to this is to review your day and be
games and creative hobbies are
grateful for your successes – down to the smallest ones such as getting in the 30
proven stress-relievers as they
minute workout or yoga session you had planned for the day.
relax you and bring overall peace
to both mind and body.
For more information on any of our
Even simple breathing exercises are effective at relaxing the body and the mind.
services please visit us on the
The breathing exercises below can be done easily any time, any where. Practice
Web at: http://spiralflame.net/
them throughout the day and make them a daily habit.
Counting breaths is a great place to start incorporating better breathing into your
life. Begin by taking several deep belly breaths, allowing both the chest and belly
to expand. Let out a heavy sigh or two. Breathing naturally, count your inhale and
exhale, repeating for several breaths. Then extend the count of the inhalation so
that it is longer than the exhalation. After several breaths, reverse the process by
extending the exhalation so that it is longer than the inhale. Return to a natural
breath until you feel complete in the exercise
Learn more at
Nadi Shodhana (channel cleansing) is an alternate nostril breathing exercise
with a number of exceptional benefits. It is a calming breath that balances the
hemispheres of the brain, promotes clear thinking, clears the energy channels
(nadis), and helps soothe stress and anxiety. If you are new to this breathing
FOCUSED THOUGHT exercise, please see the Nadi Shodhana video for hand placement and a
Contemplating a specific problem, demonstration. Begin by placing the thumb and ring finger to each side of the
and in turn, falling into a state of nose, higher up along the bridge. The first and second fingers may be curled in or
flow. Time slows as you you may rest them on the forehead. Gently close the right nostril, inhale easily
contemplate a specific problem. through the left, then closing the left nostril gently, exhale through the right. Now
inhale through the right nostril, then exhale through the left. Continue cycling back
BRAINWAVE TRAINING and forth for 5-10 rounds, or more if you have time!
Brainwave training, a scientific tool
for transformation, is the quickest Just Breathe
and most efficient way to access
deep, profound meditation states Better breathing brings better health, better mental clarity and the first step to
that awaken the power and wellness, While other habits are important to address as well, it all begins with our
potential of the mind. breath. Breathing is the foundation and it is an easy place to start making
changes. So, join me and just breathe … ahhhhhhhhh.
CLICK HERE - To learn more about breathing and other
ways to relieve stress and improve your quality of living at