The Power of Breathing

For something we just do without thinking every day, how can we turn breathing into a powerful tool? How can we harness the power of breathing.

Slow deep breathing can be found in Yoga, Qigong, and Buddhist meditation. Christian Monks use it prior to prayer. Martial Artists to sharpen their senses.

Chanting helped Mahatma Gandhi to guide his people through dangerous times. In so many different areas of the world there is evidence ancient breathing forms date back thousands of years or more.

So why can breathing be so powerful?

The stresses of modern life can induce negative emotions:

  • anxiety,
  • frustration, anger and
  • cynicism.

There is a lot of modern research on how stress can accelerate the decline of physical health. Examples include:

Additionally, there are the mental and emotional issues that are an everyday struggle for many people of all ages.

As we know breathing happens automatically and we don’t need to think about it. But breathing is also under our conscious control. When we practice slow deep breathing positive things can happen to our minds and our bodies.

The power of slow deep breathing

‘Fight of Flight’

Firstly, there is the sympathetic system, known as ‘fight or flight’. This is activated whether we deliberately choose to seek a thrill or a challenge or there is an external danger. This can lead to relentless stress, anxiety, fear and depression. It can be hard to get out of this default state that many of us have experienced. It is a feeling of getting stuck!

So how can we switch off the ‘fight and flight’ branch and turn on the ‘rest and digest’ branch that is called the parasympathetic system? The quickest and most effective way to do this is slow deep breathing! Don’t worry if you have only ten minutes for yourself each day. By completing a simple breathing exercise you could alleviate some aspects of your mental or physical suffering. This works by activating your ‘rest and digest system’.

  • heart problems,
  • obesity,
  • inflammation and
  • immune dysfunction.

Becoming aware of your breathing is likely to be the first step

  • One way to do this is to sit comfortably, close your mouth and breathe through your nose. If you cannot breathe through your nose then you can still practice by breathing through your mouth.
  • Close your eyes, if you are comfortable to do so, feel the air as it moves in and out. Breathing slowly and deeply feel the air move down into your lungs then back up again.
  • Counting your breath in and then out again, helps keep the focus on your breath and away from distracting thoughts. Feel the rise and fall of your belly and chest. Now you are becoming aware of your breath.
  • It is possible to learn belly breathing or slowing down to breathe at five breaths per minute. This does take considerable practice!

You may notice that your mind feels calmer with less ‘chatter’ and your body may feel more relaxed. With time and practice tension will fade and calmness will grow.

  • If you have difficulty sleeping try this one in bed; turn off the lights, remove all distractions and breathe yourself to sleep!

With a little time and effort you will be able to harness the power of your own breath to enhance your health and the happiness that you deserve.

Like to Know More?

If you would like to learn more about breathing and movement there are local Tai Chi Qigong session:

Each Friday in the Kibworth Village Hall

Each Wednesday at the Burton Overy Village Hall

To find out more, please call Kerry on: Tel:07715458064

The Power of Breathing, Tai Chi Image.
The Balance of Tai Chi

Kerry Byrne