From birth to death we have at our disposal a natural, strong, and harmless sedative and tranquilizer that we can use to prevent anxiety, nerves, over-excitement, and most importantly it is a tool that allows us to take control of our mind.
Benefits of relaxed breathing:
- Slow breathing soothes and relaxes the nervous system.
- Helps in the proper functioning of the pineal and the pituitary glands.
- Slow, deep breathing flushes out toxins, digests food and helps in controlling weight.
- Diaphragmatic breathing massages the organs in the abdomen area. Organs like the pancreas, liver and the heart get massaged and the circulation also improves.
- Improves the texture of the skin.
- It makes the heart healthier by decreasing the organic workload.
- Increases the capacity of the lungs and oxygenates the tissues of the body.
- Slow breathing improves concentration.
Pranayama: Breath Control
As the breath, so the mind. When you are relaxed check your breathing. It will be long. When you are stressed check your breathing. It will be short. Realizing this, we can gain control of our body and mind by taking control of our breathing. This is an ancient technique and in Yoga it is called "Pranayama" and is the fourth limb of the Eight Limbs of Yogic Instructions (Astanaga Raja Yoga). It brings us control in life, and relaxation and calm in our meditation.
BREATH: The Golden Tool to relaxation and self control
"As the mind, so the breath. As the breath, so the mind."
Taking control of our breathing is the most ancient and most successful way to calm, relaxation, and taking control of our mind. Next time you become stressed or anxious, check your breathing. Is it short, sharp, difficult, through the mouth, pain and tension across the chest? All these are symptoms of emotional arousal: the hind-brain kicking in and creating those "fight-or-flight" hormones.
Taking control of our breath: 7/11 Deep Breathing
Learn a special type of breathing, not into your chest but deep into your tummy or diaphragm which is below your chest. The important thing here is that the out-breath must be longer than the in-breath even if only by one or two seconds. This causes stimulation of the part of your nervous system (parasympathetic) responsible for relaxation. This is a basic law of biology and if you breathe in this way then your body will have no choice but to relax.
It may take a few minutes but the body will respond regardless of what your mind is thinking. Experience this now. Sit down and close your eyes for a little while. Just become aware of your breathing and breathe in to the count of seven and breathe out to the count of eleven. You can hold for a couple of seconds at the bottom of the out breath if that's comfortable for you.
If you can't manage a seven second inbreath, then take the longest inbreath that you can (eg: 4 seconds) and simply extend the outbreath to be at least two seconds longer than the inbreath (eg: 6 seconds). Do this at least 20 times and then begin to increase the length of the inbreath and the outbreath, always ensuring that the outbreath is at least two seconds longer than the inbreath.