The breath. Without breath, there is no life. In fact, the word “spirit” means epistemologically to breathe. Breathing is the one function of the body that we can consciously control. The heart, and the mind all have a life of their own. But, by consciously controlling our breath, we too can begin to take back just a little bit of control over our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Conscious breathing is actually one of the eight limbs of Yoga, called ‘pranayama’, or life force control. There are a number of specific exercises and techniques that one can apply (which should only be down with an experienced yoga practitioner), but on a more simple level, controlling the level of our inhale compared to our exhale, can have a calming effect upon the body and mind. Simply, by doubling the length of the exhale compared to the inhale, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a relaxation response in the body. This is a very effective means of stress reduction, especially when faced with high pressure situations in the office, or prior to or during the giving of presentations.
Other practitioners have developed working with the breath further for specific therapeutic purposes under the guise of ‘transformational breathing’. Transformational Breath® is a specific technique developed by Dr Judith Kravitz which aims to restore bodily function on a cellular level using a full diaphragm breath. It is a much deeper therapy that more fully oxygenates the body through optimal breathing techniques. For more information, please see the Transformational Breathe foundation.
Simply put, consciously breathing is an effective means of functioning on a much deeper level. When we breathe more deeply, we are slowing things down. When we are stressed or anxious, we can take action to bring ourselves back into the present, here and now. Stress and anxiety levels reduce, and a feeling of wellbeing and presence emerge.
Transformational breathing has also been used to support those suffering from depression, anxiety, burn-out as well addiction, asthma and other breathing conditions.
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