Smooth or intermittent, deep or superficial, it reflects our emotional state. Learning how to control breathing is an effective way to control stress. And really feel better.
What could be more natural? Without hesitation, we inhale and exhale several thousand times a day. But under the influence of our emotions, the rhythm and depth of breathing are constantly changing. In suspense, we freeze, “holding our breath” from excitement or fear. It happens that “breathtaking” from an excess of feelings. And the daily chores sometimes simply “do not give a sigh.” Emotions control our breathing, it is a fact. But the reverse is also true: having gained control over breathing, we can influence our emotional state.
From the belly
Young children breathe in the stomach: it rises on inspiration and falls on the exhale – with a large amplitude and constant frequency. An adult only breathes when he is relaxed or fast asleep. At the slightest sign of stress or pain, the breath immediately changes, it becomes intermittent, superficial, frequent … And now we are breathing not in the stomach, but in the chest (which reduces the respiratory capacity by a factor of three), we breathe “the other way around” (drawing in the stomach while inhaling and releasing it when exhale). What to do to breathe again in full force?
All the lungs
We breathe at a frequency of ten to fifteen breaths per minute: when inhaling, the diaphragm contracts, lowers, and the chest expands. An increase in lung volume creates a reduced pressure in them, which allows air to enter the lungs and fill two hundred million pulmonary alveoli. “The amount of air inhaled by an adult per day is an average of 15-25 thousand liters. And all this air is purified, warmed up and rendered harmless, ”says Irina Lunichkina, a pulmonologist, head of the Asthma Service asthma center. – The main function in the process of breathing is performed by the bronchi, the system of branching tubules.
Imagine a tree turned upside down. Between the bronchial (air-conducting) and alveolar (gas exchange) zones, there is a transition zone: air passing through small branches that form a porous tissue, which plays the role of a kind of filter, is warmed and cleaned of dust, soot, germs and other particles that are deposited in the lumen of the bronchi and bronchioles. ” Gas exchange takes place through the blood vessels-capillaries: blood enriched with oxygen is taken through the arteries from the lungs to other organs, and blood containing carbon dioxide is delivered through the veins to the lungs. When you exhale, the diaphragm rises, the alveoli are freed from carbon dioxide, the chest is reduced in volume, the air is forced into the trachea. An involuntary respiratory reflex is triggered by an increase in carbon dioxide in the blood. But, unlike blood circulation, we can control breathing through will.
Breath of life
For people of the East, breathing is not just the supply of necessary oxygen to the body. As the qigong theory states, “the forces of Heaven penetrate our body and go to the Earth, then the forces of the Earth go to Heaven – that is what is inhaling and exhaling.” The breathing process, therefore, is energy exchange with the universe – the vital energy of qi, or prana, penetrates our being, and then returns outside. “At the physical level, breathing allows our body to get rid of toxins,” explains Elena Ulmasbaeva, head of the Yoga Practica yoga center network. – But an equally important process takes place on an emotional level: a full exhalation saves us from “emotional toxins” (from accumulated irritation to unconscious stress caused by an excess of negative information around, in TV news, in the press).
Inhalation is a metaphor for consumption – a modern person tends to breathe “greedily”, often and quickly. It is important not only to “consume”, but also to get rid of unnecessary, therefore, in the practice of yoga we pay a lot of attention to exhalation, lengthening it, trying to make it more complete, better. ”
Try a simple exercise: concentrating on breathing for five minutes, inhale into four counts, and exhale into seven counts (one “count” is approximately equal to one second). Having mastered it, you can go to a more complex option: inhale into four counts; breath holding in four counts; exhale into seven counts. This exercise helps relieve emotional excitement.
Yoga is indeed the most affordable technique in order to learn how to control your breathing and gain control over stress. In addition, many modern psychotherapeutic areas (for example, gestalt or body-oriented therapy) use breathing as a very effective means of healing various mental injuries.
Proper breathing can also help reduce physical pain – through visualization, you can direct exhalation to the part of the body that hurts. “It’s enough to imagine that your nostrils are in this place,” explains Natalia Shuvalova, a yoga teacher. “Exhaling” air, for example, into a aching lower back or neck, you can completely relieve tension from the spine and significantly relieve pain. “
“When I think about how to breathe while running, breathing loses its naturalness and from this the movement loses its rhythm, it slows down,” says 40-year-old Irina, athletics coach. “It really happens so often,” confirms Natalya Shuvalova. – Despite the fact that breathing is given special importance in yoga, we avoid talking about it constantly. Because, just say “take a breath” or “exhale”, the natural rhythm of breathing goes astray. It becomes subordinate to the will, consciousness, which forces you to think about how to breathe correctly. Therefore, it is better to influence breathing not by direct control, but by relieving stresses (for example, in the chest) that interfere with full and natural breathing. ”
How do you do this?
To make the breathing process more conscious is to learn to be aware of what is happening with our body. A small exercise will help to understand this in detail.
- Lie on your back or sit comfortably. Breathe as usual. Close your eyes and focus.
- Pay attention to how you breathe – with your mouth or nose.
- Calculate how many bills your regular breath lasts and how long it takes to breathe out.
- Put one hand on the chest, the other on the stomach – what moves more intensively when breathing?
- Put both hands on the ribs and try to understand how they move in the process of breathing – forward, up, to the side, move apart like a fan?
- Focus and to the maximum raise and lower your stomach with the help of breathing – calculate how long your breath in and out.
“To sing our soul”
“Every day we spend at least 15 minutes working on breathing before we start singing,” says Tais Urumidis, vocal teacher and jazz singer.
“Even masters of the Italian school of vocal developed a series of exercises aimed at staging and consolidating the singing breath. Unlike ordinary breathing (chest), it is deeper and is carried out by controlling the diaphragm. The vocalist’s breathing is similar to the breathing of yogis who breathe through the stomach: you can imagine inside you a tall vessel with a narrow neck, which starts from the larynx and descends to the abdominal cavity. Making a short breath with his nose, a man “stretches” it to the very abdomen, as if filling this vessel. The ability for this type of breathing in us is inherent in nature, it is very natural. The advantages of such a “developed” breathing are obvious: the brain is better supplied with oxygen, all its functions are activated. Proper breathing allows you to not only sing well, but also to look and feel better. If you train it gradually and systematically, it is brought to automatism and becomes completely natural, both for vocals and for ordinary speech. ”