Friday, November 21, 2008

More on Breathing

I've gotten mixed responses on my recent post about taking a breath. Some people say it doesn't work to relax them, others say they're not nervous. Of course, do whatever works for you.
However, if you'd like to try breathing to ground your emotions and feel more relaxed, I encourage you to explore the techniques I'm linking to here, in an article written by my colleague Toi Lynn Wyle. Toi Lynn is not only a psychotherapist and
life coach, she's a yoga instructor as well, so she's an expert in this
topic. I know everybody is different, but we all breathe. Under stress it can be easy to move up into our heads, and not remain grounded in the body. Breathing helps to connect us to our bodies. For those of us who weren't athletic as children, it can be very easy to be in the habit of living in our heads.
Take a breath.

1 comment:

  1. No no ... it depends heavily on HOW you take the breath. A disturbed breathing rhythm is one of the things at the base of steadily mounting anxiety, and panic attacks. You have to do it in a certain way, to game your body's own fundamental systems into calming you down. Short and shallow won't cut it, for starters.

    You need a slow, deep inhalation ... hold it for a couple of seconds... then a slightly slower still full and deep exhalation. Then repeat without holding the out-breath. Make the entire cycle as long as you comfortably can without sparking anxiety from oxygen debt or a feeling of breathlessness; somewhere in the region of 10 to 25 seconds is viable depending on your respiratory health, fitness, altitude and so-on.

    The long slow exhale is much like a typical sigh ... it causes a general relaxation, and slowing down of various autonomous systems. But a fast, deep inhalation on the other side of it works rather like a yawn, putting your body on a higher alert, must-try-to-stay-awake footing. So that side needs to be slow as well. The momentary hold at the top of the cycle gives your body the best chance of being properly oxygenated, and releasing CO2 into the lungs, before the exhale, so you don't end up suffocating yourself. Done right you should have symptoms of neither hypo- nor hyperventilation.