• Kallie Klug

Are you breathing?

We so underestimate the power of the breath. When we breathe shallow and fast (or hardly at all!), our heart rate goes up, blood pressure spikes, and we activate our sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight response). When we breathe deeply into the belly and exhale fully, the heart rate slows, blood pressure goes down, digestion improves, and we move into our parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest response).

Take a moment and notice how your breath feels now. Does it feel like it’s flowing to your belly and filling up the lungs? Or does it feel like it’s getting stuck in the throat or chest? Often, when we are stressed or experiencing low-level anxiety, our breath gets sticky and doesn’t pass past the throat or chest. Take another moment and notice the texture of the breath. Does it feel choppy? Or does it feel nice and smooth?

If you feel like there is room for you to breathe a little deeper and smoother, go ahead and try this simple breathing technique. Go ahead and exhale all the air out of your lungs through the mouth. Next inhale, breathe in through the nose, filling up the belly like it’s a balloon inflating with air. Once at the top, hold for a moment. Exhale out through the mouth making a “whooshing” sound. Continue to practice this breathing technique for 10 rounds.

When you’re done. Take a moment and notice the breath again. Does it feel a little smoother? A lit

tle deeper than before?

Another effective breathing technique is the 4-7-8 breath coined by Dr. Weil. Exhale all the air out the lungs. Inhale for a count of 4. Hold for a count of 7. Exhale for a count of 8. Repeat 4 times. When you’ve completed 4 rounds, inhale fully and exhale fully and then let the breath return to its natural rhythm. Once again, take a moment to close the eyes and notice if your breath and body feel any different after practicing this. Most people report feeling calmer, more centered, and less anxious.

I teach private breathwork to people and one of my clients came to me because of his very serious hypertension. His blood pressure would rise so high and he would feel his heart beating so quickly in his chest that he would sometimes feel like he was going to have a heart attack. His doctor gave him a blood pressure monitor. When I started working with him, the 4-7-8 breath was the first one I taught him. It’s simple and effective. He reported lower blood pressure immediately after using this breath technique as well as over time as he would practice it a few times a day.

I encourage you today, when you start to feel your heart race or feel your breath becoming shallow, to utilize this 4-7-8 breathing technique and see how it feels. The most powerful tool is at our disposal- the breath.

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