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This month's wellness focus is breathing.

The act of breathing is one that is easily taken for granted, yet as a life sustaining necessity, it is an integral part of our well being.  The impact of improper breathing has far reaching negative effects, while the benefits of engaging in breathing exercises and techniques are many and include:

  • relax and calm the mind and body
  • decrease tension and anxiety
  • minimize panic attacks and agoraphobia
  • combat depression
  • lower irritability
  • relieve muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue
  • treat and prevent breath holding, hyperventilation, and shallow breathing
  • reduce cold hands and feet

There are many, many breathing exercises that your practitioner can teach you, and mastery of advanced breathing techniques have a wide variety of health and wellness benefits.  The following is a beginner level breathing exercise that is helpful when trying to relax and calm your body and mind.

Natural Breathing

Begin by sitting or standing up straight and in good posture.  Breathe through your nose. As you inhale, follow these steps in this order:
First: fill the lower section of your lungs with air (your diaphragm will push your abdomen outward to make room for the air)
Second: fill the middle part of your lungs as your lower ribs and chest move forward slightly to accommodate the air
Third: Fill the upper part of your lungs as you raise your chest slightly and draw in your abdomen a little to support your lungs.
With practice you will soon be able to complete this in a few seconds as one fluid movement.
Now, hold your breath for a few seconds to experience your full lungs.
As you slowly exhale, pull your abdomen in slightly and slowly lift it up as your lungs empty.  When you have completely exhaled, relax your abdomen and chest.

Now and then, and the end of the inhalation phase, raise your shoulders and collarbone slightly so that the very top of your shoulders are sure to be replenished with fresh air