Welcome to part 2 of Take a Chill Pill series. If you haven’t read the first post, I talked about why having your personal mission statement is important for you even if you are not an entrepreneur and how you can craft it.
Today I want to introduce you to a mindful breathing technique. You have probably heard about breathing meditation, breathwork, and so on. But how does it actually help you?
THE BIOLOGY BEHIND MINDFUL BREATHING
Mindful breathing is usually going back to the way babies breathe – through your belly instead of chest and/or shoulders. It’s the most natural way for us to breathe. But what actually is happening while we are breathing diaphragmatically – through our belly?
First, a full belly inhale causes lungs to press on the diaphragmatic wall, which, in turn, pushes down on the abdominal cavity. It’s pretty much like a balloon that’s being squeezed. Finally, the squeezed abdomen spreads outward in the front of the abdomen and the back where it passes on the spine.
This causes the abdominal cavity to put pressure on the longest cranial nerve – the vagus nerve – which runs all the way down from the brain stem and the spine. When it’s pressed on, this nerve quiets down and turns on the body’s relaxation system.
THE BENEFITS OF BREATHING THROUGH YOUR BELLY
When the vagus nerve quiets down, your body responds with various benefits, such as:
- lower blood pressure and pulse rate
- less lactate in the blood (lactate increases feelings of anxiety)
- increased levels of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter
- more alpha brain waves, which increase alertness and calmness
HOW TO BELLY BREATHE
Learning to take fuller, longer breaths through your belly is really simple. You can do this by either sitting in a chair or while lying flat on the floor. If you are a total beginner, I would recommend lying down on a hard surface.
If you are sitting, lean into the back of your chair. If you are on the floor, bend you knees or place a pillow under them.
Place one hand on your belly, another one on your chest.
Inhale through your nose, as deeply as you can. During your inhale, make sure that your chest is not moving at all or moving very little.
Exhale, tightening your belly muscles, letting them fall inward. Some recommend breathing out through your mouth, but I usually do it through my nose. Just do what feels comfortable for you.
Repeat the process for 5-10 minutes. Preferably, at least once a day.
This breathing exercise is great if you work from home. For example, you can have a quick breathwork session in between your writing sessions if you are a blogger. It will really help you relax those shoulders that get so stiff after sitting and writing for a while.
You might feel slightly light-headed or feel that it’s quite difficult to breathe through your belly during the first times you do it – that’s completely normal. Just immerse yourself into practice and relax.
ADVANCED BREATHWORK MEDITATION
I wanted to share a video that I have found on Youtube. This meditation is extremely powerful and I would not recommend it for people who have never tried belly breathing in their adult lives before.
But, if you’d want something guided and more advanced, try this out! Erin shows you how to do breathwork that incorporates both belly and chest inhales, it’s really fun.
Have you ever tried breathwork before?
Hi! I’m Cornelia.