Peaceful Breathing for Relaxation & Rejuvenation
Have you ever really listened to the sound of peaceful breathing… the breath of life? The sounds of someone gently sleeping, a dog’s soft snoring sounds, or even the sound of the ocean waves lapping over the shore? Sitting here for a moment on the coast of Maine, I am intrigued by how much the ocean sounds like our giant earth is breathing softly, strongly and consistently.
Recently, I have been teaching clients how to breathe deeply for relaxation and rejuvenation. When taking in a deep breath, most people tense their chest, their neck, and clench their jaw without being aware of it. It is also remarkable how we often breathe with only the middle part of our lungs. In fact, most people use about one-third of our lungs. We completely leave out the most important part of this life giving organ, the lobes that extend down along the back. When we limit our oxygen intake, we set ourselves up for increased reaction to stress, lack of energy, and overall poor health.
When we fully expand our lungs, we cause our health to improve in several ways:
- We draw more oxygen into our body which gives us more energy.
- We stimulate the Vegas nerve along the diaphragm, which releases endorphins that relax us.
- We move our abdominal organs which cause them to function more efficiently.
- We bring oxygen to the blood cells, which extends the life expectancy and vitality of our blood cells.
Want to see the difference for yourself? Place your hand on your belly and suck in your belly while you take in a deep breath. Notice how your chest rises, yet you tense up, and actually limit the amount of air you draw in. Although the lungs have five lobes, when we breathe like this, we only use two of them.
Now, keep your hand on your belly—your abdomen—and take a slow deep breath in…like you are blowing up a big balloon in your abdomen. Notice that your chest does not rise so much, yet your abdomen does. Next gently use the abdomen to push your hand out even more, and notice how you automatically suck more air into your lungs.
When you push your abdomen out, you create space to expand all the lobes of your lungs. Since the two lower lobes have even more blood vessels, the flow of oxygen is increased to the tissues, which is both healing and relaxing. When you regularly breathe using all of your lungs you experience a major decrease in stress because of the Vegas nerve that runs through the diaphragm. When you stretch the diaphragm with a deep gentle breath, it activates the Vegas nerve, and stimulates anti-stress hormones and endorphins.
Use this simple secret to lower your stress response each day. Take ten nice deep breaths this way at least once every hour. Breathe in for a count of three, hold the breath for a count of three, and breathe out for a count of six. You will notice a wonderful state of calm, peace, and a greater feeling of well-being.
Happy breathing, stress busting, and relaxing!