Your breath is incredible. Have you ever stopped and tuned in fully to your breath and the power of simply breathing?
- Women are encouraged to breathe deeply in labour to ensure their babies get enough oxygen
- Navy seals use box breathing to stay calm
- Athletes stand on the blocks and inhale in preparation for an explosive exhale and movement when the starter fires
The body intuitively breathes and is a powerful guide into how you are feeling.
- Have you noticed what happens with your breath when you feel anxious or worried? Shallow breathing kicks in.
- Have you noticed what happens with your breath when you are relaxed? Inhale and exhale is deeper.
Breathing is connected to your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.
The sympathetic nervous system, also known as your flight or fight system, is a critical part of the human body because it will be activated in emergencies. For example, if you see a car swerving out of control while you walk down the road, your brain will detect a potential threat and automatically take you to a safe place without thinking. This is your sympathetic nervous system kicking in and physically when you are in this mode, your breath quickens, pupils dilate and you are more alert to move to safety swiftly. You react.
Your parasympathetic system is the opposite to this system and is your calming system which helps to relax. The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as your rest and digest system. Activating the parasympathetic system through deep breathing helps to calm the brain to allow more oxygen to flow to your brain. This system supports your body to function more efficiently. This in turn enables a clear mind.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety can be described as having a stressor removed, but your body continues to physically react as if you are under threat even though you are physically safe.
Deep breathing exercises help with anxiety because this act of deepening the breath in a conscious and purposeful way activates the calming system, and takes the brain out of stress-mode into a relaxed state.
Always reach out to doctors, therapists, friends and family for support with ongoing anxiety, rather than struggle in silence. There is healthy anxiety or stress which is part of daily life, but it is when this anxiety blows up and is a constant source of discomfort that it leads to constantly activating your flight-or-fight system which can be potentially damaging to your body.
I truly find the human body incredible! It is fascinating how intelligent the human body is. Learning how to breathe and calm the brain is the biggest takeaway for me in yoga over the past few years. And getting my body out of constantly being in an anxious state to be able to step into my personal power rather than live as a shadow of who I am today.