There are times throughout the day when my Skelly holds her breath out of fear, fatigue or stress and that’s not good for bone health. There are many ways that we manipulate breath, from holding it or allowing it in/out on a shallow level to taking in tiny gulps when stressed.
“It’s amazing how many folks do not breathe into their lower lungs and belly,” said Dr. Thomas J. Francescott, ND, a naturopath who practices in New York’s upper Hudson Valley. “Breathing has the ability to help stress hormones, vagus nerve (runs from the brain through the face and thorax down to the abdomen, containing parasympathetic fibres) and general relaxation. In terms of bone health, stress plays a big role in bone breakdown. So simple techniques to oxygenate the tissues can help to build bones”
There are a vast variety of specified breathing practices that allow for deeper and more regulated breathing.
However, the amazing fact is that during the course of every day, without giving it much effort or thought, the body takes care by breathing for us. By placing a focus on how one is breathing, the dynamic of an individual’s vitality can shift. With more regulated breath, a person can experience a higher level of energy and concentration. And, the systems of the body can run more efficiently, properly oxygenating the blood, tissues, organs, and bones.
You most easily see that the belly expands during inhalation and contracts during exhalation. When moving through daily life this isn’t the typical MO for adults.
Stress, and not being present to the moment, leads to an oxygen shortage in the body without much realization that it’s there. Self-consciousness, regarding weight around the abdominal area, leads to bellies being pulled in on both the inhale AND the exhale.
In this case vanity wins over the breath entering and exiting in clear, broad strokes. For others, when in difficult situations and those experiences that bring about feelings such as anger, disappointment or fear, there is tendency to hold the breath.
Things are moving at barely an operating pace. With strong lung capacity, the body can more readily self-regulate and allow the breath be a cleansing mechanism by letting the hair in the nostrils do the job of filtering the oxygen in and sending the carbon dioxide out.
There are many types of breathing exercises for those who desire more formalized practice.
Pranayama— composed of two Sanskrit words: Prāna meaning life force and āyāma, meaning to extend, draw out, restrain, or control–is the umbrella breathing technique used in yoga class. There are many types of pranayama.
Ujjayi Pranayama (ooh-JAH-yee prah-nah-YAH-mah) is the most utilized, calming the mind and warming the body. During inhale and exhale lungs are completely filled, while there is a slight throat contraction—utilizing the muscle used to whisper-while breathing through the nose. Detailed tutorials on various pranayama techniques are found on You Tube.
Breathing practices help disengage distracting thoughts and sensations. Keeping presence requires a daily routine for time and quiet, a comfortable space to practice, with more ease than rigor. To get to the point of a deeper relaxation through breath is to shift focus to deeper calmer rhythms helped by paying attention to the body. (i)
Here’s a simple exercise to relax the nervous system, requiring a five minute minimum commitment daily:
-Place one hand on the belly and one on the heart. Focus so that belly expands during inhale/contracts during exhale, breathing through the nose.
-Inhale (count of two)
-Exhale (count of four
With practice, as lung capacity increases, you can extend this (i.e. breathe in for six or eight, breathe out for 12 or 16—always doubling the exhale.)
Stop what you’re doing and take a deep life affirming breath.
Your Skelly will thank you.
From my deep breathing bones to yours,