CULTIVATING YOUR BREATH / For health, wellbeing and stress release

CULTIVATING YOUR BREATH / For health, wellbeing and stress release

Oxygen is a wonderful antidote to stress. Unless I’m in poor air, I am cultivating my breath to reach deep within my body. Breath is health, life-force, and awareness of self in place.

There is a correlation between the breath and stress – our breath quickens and becomes shallow when we're overwhelmed, depriving our body of oxygen, influencing circulation, and starting the spin into anxiety.

But it is very difficult for the body to stay in stress when your breathing is deep and slow.

In the ancient Chinese practice of Qigong, there are six qualities of the breath that we nurture with every inhale and every exhale: 

Long. Slow. Deep. Fine. Even. Tranquil.

    As much as my attention allows me to, I practice cultivating these qualities. At some point it becomes natural.

    I close my mouth and keep my tongue on the roof of my mouth - which helps energy flow throughout the body. Breathe through the nose, as it filters fine pollutants, and moistens the air before it enters the lungs. Relax your jaw and begin the process of first observing the breath's depth and frequency – is it quick and shallow or something else?

    As you breathe in, really extend the belly like no-one's watching – this fills more of the lungs. We have five lobes in the lungs, most of us only fill a couple of these lobes when we breathe. By distending the belly as we breathe in, you activate the diaphragm, which acts like bellows – drawing oxygen deep into all of the 5 lobes of your lungs. Don’t be afraid that you will get a protruding belly by doing this, you are actually strengthening your stomach muscles with this practice.

    Once you have got this basic belly breathing in hand, start refining it by cultivating the six characteristics of the breath:

    1. LONG - means just that: a long and steady stream of air.

    2. SLOW  - is an unhurried respiratory rate, and an unhurried mind.

    3. DEEP - is drawing the breath deep down into the naval area, filling the whole lower part of torso, kidneys as well.

    4. FINE - is smooth and quiet.

    5. EVEN - is an even inhalation to exhalation: inhale for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts (more or less , depending on your very own way of breathing).

    6. TRANQUIL - is being free of worries while you breath. 

      Start with just  5-10 minutes, every day. After a while, you'll find your breath naturally gravitating towards these qualities, towards a steady flow, towards health and wellbeing.

      Go well, Christo.

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