Optimal breathing habits are essential for our health and wellbeing.
Notice your breathing patterns as you go about your day; they change from moment to moment to reflect your mental and emotional states.
Stressful situations constrict our breath and make them more shallow. Conversely, when we are at ease, the breath is allowed to flow languidly into the belly.
Belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve and promotes the parasympathetic nervous system, which is better known as the rest and digest system. This system acts as a counterbalancing force to the sympathetic ‘fight or flight’ nervous system that most of the modern world seems to be stuck in all the time, even after the workday (and workweek) ends.
The ills of being stuck in fight or flight mode are aplenty; high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, obesity, chronic inflammation, and the list goes on…
The good news is that the cure for these problems lies right beneath your nose! Breathing is the only biological activity governing our autonomic nervous system that is both voluntary and involuntary. No wonder then that the Ancients of the East developed complex breathing exercises that enabled them to manipulate their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual states.
Many breathing exercises exist, all of which serve different purposes. In this blog, I would like to share the 365 breathing technique with you.
This deceptively easy technique created by Dr David O’Hare has remarkable immediate and long-lasting effects which cannot be
understated; it reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone), increases DHEA (the only hormone that regularly reduces with age, thus giving it the nickname ‘youth hormone’), increases salivary IgA (immune system support), increases oxytocin secretion (a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of pleasure), increases alpha waves (brainwaves associated with calm, wakeful states and which aid memorization and learning), and more.
365 is a formula:
• 3 times a day
• 6 breaths per minute
• 5 minutes per session
Inhale through your nose for 5 counts, taking the breath into your belly. Exhale through gently pursed lips for 5 counts. Practice this exercise for 5 minutes, 3 times daily. This exercise is best practised first thing upon waking, before lunch, and at the end of the working day.
This exercise seems simple enough, and it is, but as with everything in life, consistency is key! I encourage you to give it a try and set your alarm three times a day, to begin with, while you establish a routine.
Go well and breathe easy!