Sunday, May 30, 2010

Science of Breath (Part II)

So it should now be clear that abdominal breathing is preferable to that of chest breathing. The following are breathing exercises designed to improve breathing and to reverse Sensory Motor Amnesia (aka residual tension).

Major Rules of Breathing:

1) Never fill your lungs more than 90% of their capacity. Your lungs are very delicate and are easily damaged.
2) Focus on exhaling completely!
3) Breathe in and out through the nose. But if you find it difficult to breathe through your nose, you should open your mouth and breathe normally.
4) Breathing should be comfortable, not forced. If you find that the breathing exercise you are practicing causes anxiety, panic, frustration, or other negative emotions, discontinue and let your body breathe in its own style until you feel calm and centered once again.

Diaphragmatic (Abdominal Breath) Exercise:Lay down flat on your back. Place your left hand (or small bag of rice or bean bag) on your abdomen the navel, and your right hand on your chest. As you breathe, notice whether there is more movement in the abdomen or the chest. Try to take your breath down deeper and deeper into the lungs so that you feel the abdomen lifting as you breathe in and falling as you breathe out. Gradually, you should begin to notice the abdomen moving more firmly and the chest moving less. Try to let your breathing become slower, deeper, smoother, and circular.

Complete Breath:
Exhale ALL of the air from your lungs in a gentle manner, then use the diaphragm to draw air into the bottom of the lungs first, then allow the lower ribs to expand filling the middle lungs, then allow the upper ribs and chest to expand, and finally, lift the shoulders to fill the topmost lobe under the collar bone with air (during this last phase the stomach and abdomen will be drawn up and in slightly). Breathe out in reverse order, starting by lowering the shoulders, contracting the upper chest, lower ribs, and lastly the diaphragm so that all air is again gently squeezed from the lungs. The whole process should be done smoothly, and effortlessly as a perfect yawn.

Take a couple complete breaths at least 3-4 times a day. I like to do this exercise when I first start experiencing heart palpitations.

Remember to keep you face and jaw relaxed while practicing your deep breathing!

My favorite restorative yoga poses:

Cat pose

Extended puppy pose

Locust pose

Happy baby pose

Child's pose

Bridge pose