Breathe your­self health­ier

Har­ness the power of your own breath to help heal your body and mind

Woman's Own - - HELLO & WELCOME -

Re­duce blood pres­sure

Ac­cord­ing to an In­dian study, breath­ing through your left nos­tril may help lower heart rate and blood pres­sure. ‘Place your right in­dex and mid­dle fin­ger in the space be­tween your eye­brows, then close off your right nos­tril with your right thumb,’ says yoga ex­pert Naomi Costantino. Aim for six min­utes of long, slow breath­ing.

In­crease en­ergy

‘Sit with your spine tall and shoul­ders re­laxed. Breathe in through your nose so your belly rises like a bal­loon. The ex­hale should have a ‘swoosh’ sound to it, and your belly should draw back to your spine,’ says Aimee Hart­ley, trans­for­ma­tional breath fa­cil­i­ta­tor at the­breath­in­groom. co.uk. ‘Con­tinue for 10 breaths.’

Lift your mood

this yoga tech­nique in­volves to­tally fill­ing your lungs with air for an up­lift­ing boost of oxy­gen. In­hale and direct the air into your belly, then the ribcage and then into the up­per chest. As you breathe out, first re­lax your chest, then the ribcage, then fi­nally pull in your belly to fin­ish the ex­hale. It will feel like a breath of fresh air!

Re­lieve pain

When we’re in dis­com­fort, our breath­ing of­ten in­creases (think step­ping into a cold shower) or we even hold our breath. But a study pub­lished in the jour­nal Pain Medicine re­vealed that slow­ing down your breath­ing by half (tak­ing six breaths a minute rather than the av­er­age 12) can ease pain. It’s thought that this helps dull the stress re­sponse of your body, which in turn can re­duce the per­cep­tion of pain. Clever!

Fall asleep fast

Dr An­drew Weil, from The Univer­sity of Ari­zona, de­scribes the 4-7-8 tech­nique as a ‘nat­u­ral tran­quil­liser for the ner­vous sys­tem’, so you can get a good night’s sleep. Keep­ing your tongue be­hind your up­per front teeth, a ex­hale through your mouth mak­ing and ‘whoosh’ sound. Close your mouth of in­hale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count mouth seven, then ex­hale through your count (mak­ing a ‘whoosh’ sound) for a of eight. Re­peat this cy­cle three times.

Beat headaches

Most of us breathe too shal­lowly, which can mean oxy­gen sup­ply to the brain’s blood ves­sels is re­duced – and that can cause headaches. ‘Ribcage breath­ing en­cour­ages ef­fec­tive blood oxy­gena­tion,’ says Pi­lates pro susie Mer­maid (mer­maid well­be­ing.tum­blr.com). ‘sit and place your hands on your ribcage. Breathe in, fo­cus­ing on the back/sides of your ribs ex­pand­ing – imag­ine fill­ing a bal­loon with air on the in­hale, then let it gen­tly de­flate on the ex­hale.’

De-stress

No mat­ter how busy you are, a minute of ‘breath­ing med­i­ta­tion’ can calm you, says mind­ful­ness ex­pert Anna Black (mind­ful­ness-med­i­ta­tion-now.com). ‘First, work out the num­ber of breaths you nor­mally take in a minute when re­laxed,’ she says. ‘Re­mem­ber it and you can prac­tise a mind­ful minute ev­ery so of­ten through­out the day. set­tle your at­ten­tion on your breath and count each in-and-out breath up to the num­ber you de­ter­mined.’

Halt panic at­tacks

If you feel a panic at­tack com­ing on, breathe in slowly through your nose, di­rect­ing your breath into your belly. Then purse your lips as you ex­hale through your mouth for a count of 10, let­ting your cheeks in­flate, puffer­fish-style. Re­peat un­til you feel calm. ‘This cre­ates pres­sure at the back of your throat, which con­trols anx­i­ety symp­toms,’ says Aimee. So it will help stop that ‘fight or flight’ feel­ing.

Ease asthma

Prac­ti­tion­ers of this Rus­sian tech­nique be­lieve that most asthma suf­fer­ers ‘over­breathe’ through their mouth, tak­ing in too much oxy­gen and re­leas­ing too much car­bon diox­ide (which helps trans­port oxy­gen to your or­gans). this ex­er­cise brings down your breath­ing vol­ume to in­duce a slight ‘air hunger’. It’s best learnt with the help of a cer­ti­fied teacher, so visit buteykoe­d­u­ca­tors.org.

Boost me­mory

Lost your keys? For­got­ten to buy milk? Psy­chol­o­gists at Northum­bria Univer­sity dis­cov­ered that rose­mary es­sen­tial oil helped in­crease alert­ness and im­proved prospec­tive me­mory by 15%. ‘Hold a bot­tle of rose­mary oil un­der a nos­tril, press­ing the other nos­tril closed,’ says Joan­nah Met­calfe, con­sul­tant aro­mather­a­pist at base­for­mula.com. ‘In­hale deeply, then re­peat on the other side.’

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