We have all experienced a rapid heart rate as a response to a stressor at some time. Whether it is being late for work or school, not meeting a deadline or almost getting hit by a car when crossing the road, the stress will generally result in shallow, fast breathing that activates a release of cortisol, adrenalin and other stress hormones.
On the other hand, controlled, deep-breathing activates the relaxation response and calms the nervous system. This not only slows our heart rate, pulse and blood pressure, but also our digestive system, while at the same time promotes a state of calm.
Try this simple Yoga-breathing exercise and feel the difference:
- Lie flat on floor or bed, arms down by your sides, palms facing up, feet falling out (called Dead Man’s Pose).
- Close your eyes.
- Focus on your breath. Take 2-3 slow deep breaths, through the nose, breathe out through the nose (quietly).
- This time, breathe in for 1 second and out for two seconds. Repeat.
- Continue this breathing pattern. Place one hand on your stomach. As you breathe in, make the stomach rise. As you breathe out, make the stomach fall.
- Now, as you are in a more relaxed state, change the breathing pattern. Breathe in for 2 counts and out for 4 counts. Keep your hand on your stomach, to check that your stomach is rising and falling as you breathe.
- Return hand to your side and continue this pattern. Focus on the count as you breathe.
- 10 to 20 minutes per day is highly recommended to reduce stress significantly.
- When your session is complete, stretch and open your eyes slowly. Become aware of your surroundings, before you get up.
… There now, don’t you feel a little calmer? Have a lovely day.