In today's fast paced life, people have forgotten the most basic activity of life - breathing! No wonder so many people are falling prey to health disorders early in life. Controlled breathing and relaxation can lower heart-rate and blood pressure. Simple breathing exercises can help in stress management and reduce stress-related mental and physical illnesses.
Eastern health systems have been using breathing techniques to conquer stress for thousands of years. Relaxation methods have lately been gaining increasing recognition in conventional medicine in Western world.
Theory of Breathing and Relaxation We inhale oxygen, which fuels all bodily functions and energy production. The carbon-dioxide we exhale is also important, as it maintains the acidity of the blood. Under stress, the "fight-or-flight" mechanism is triggered which causes rapid, shallow breathing, thus lowering carbon-dioxide levels in the blood. This leads to tiredness, anxiety and tension in the upper body muscles. In contrast, abdominal breathing helps the lungs to expand fully, helps to keep the mind and body calm and promotes well-being.
Immediate and long term effects of stress
The stress hormone adrenaline is released, which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Over time it leads to irritability, anxiety, high blood pressure and inability to sleep or relax.
Liver breaks down muscle protein to release energy, in turn causing rise in sugar and cholesterol level in blood.
Rapid breathing, breathlessness, palpitations
Muscular tension and aches, tiredness, tension headaches
Interference with digestion and stomach refluxes.
Emotional tension and outbursts, long-term effect being depression.
Increased cortisol over time interferes with the immune system
By David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net
Thus it is clear that stress can do more harm to our body than anything else and it is entirely up to us to take control of our well-being.
How relaxation helps Relaxation lowers the levels of adrenaline and in turn lowers the heightened responses of the body systems. It gives a sense of control so you can deal with the situations in a calm and sensible manner.
By stockimages, www.freedigitalphotos.net
Learn breathing correctly First timers are advised to see a practitioner. Breathing exercises are generally a part of yoga classes or meditation programs. The practitioner may sometimes advise a program as per your stress triggers or medical history. Basically, you will be taught to master abdominal breathing. It is fairly easy but comes with practice as we are so used to chest breathing.
First hand experience A couple of months back, I was experiencing daily headaches. The throbbing, one-sided type. It used to de-capacitate me and I spent most of my time sleeping in a dark room. Luckily, I happened to attend a session of Isha-kriya in Melbourne. Since then I have been practising this simple breathing procedure regularly and my headaches have dramatically reduced in frequency.
Everyday, if we can 'plug-off' for just 15 minutes, we can make a big difference to our mind and body. Just try it for a week and you will notice its calming effect. It worked for me and it would definitely work for you.