THE breath TOOL
WHY IT MATTERS
Taking a deep breath or two to relax isn’t a new concept. In fact, breathwork has been used for thousands of years as a means of calming the body and mind.
Today, science has confirmed the benefits of controlled breathing on emotional and physical well-being. Deep breathing activates the “relaxation response” of our nervous system that makes us feel more calm, present, and focused. It also benefits our bodies in many ways, like stabilizing blood pressure, reducing pain, and supporting the reparative and restorative functions of the body.
The trouble is that we’re usually not breathing in restorative ways.
What is the nervous system, really?
We all have two parts of our nervous system – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. Think of them this way: The sympathetic nervous system is like the gas pedal in a car that accelerates when we’re threatened or stressed. This acceleration is often described as a “fight or flight” response. Your parasympathetic nervous system is about recovery, rest, and repair. Think of it as the brakes in that car.
Even though we’re always breathing, we may not be breathing naturally. So often we take short, shallow breaths from our chest, and skip out on breathing all the way into the belly. Deep belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, brings more oxygen into the body. Oxygen feeds our cells and our brain, and the body can’t function properly without it. The more oxygen we bring in, the more we access the healing benefits of breath… and the more we can begin to get rid of some negative stuff that feels “stuck” inside.
Stress, negativity, and sadness get trapped in the body.
Because these emotions are difficult to manage, we tend to push them down – they get stuck within us and build up! Think of it as your system getting clogged with “gunk”. People living with a serious illness or disability – either their own or that of their loved one – might experience these emotions more frequently because of their inherent worries and fears. Therefore, this “gunk” has even more opportunities to build up.
Breathwork serves as an emotional detox, helping to clear the “gunk” out.
You don’t have to commit to hours of breathwork each day to tap into its power.
Small tweaks and short exercises can help you begin to master your breath easily.