Boo!! The first thing that happens when someone scares you is that you take a big mouth breath in and hold it. This is a natural fight or flight reaction designed to prepare us for a possible life saving next move.
For example, when the zebra is foraging calmly in close proximity to a lion, this split second reaction saves the zebra when the lion decides it’s dinner time. After the zebra gets away it returns to a calm, relaxed breathing pattern.
Unlike the zebra, we re-live our stresses and fears over and over. Our bodies think we are running from a lion, even when we’re sitting at our desks. Studies show that stress hormones are often HIGHER when we imagine something stressful than when we actually experience stress. This cycle robs us of too much of our health and happiness.
The fastest way to stop this train from barrelling down the track is to change the way we breathe! Nose breathing that uses the diaphragm allows our body to be calm and use its energy for feeling healthy and at ease. It tells our body… relax, everything is OK.
Mouth breathing convinces the brain that you’re still stuck in a stressful situation…so your body reacts as if you are under stress. You feel more anxious, your posture changes and the stress hormones that seriously affect our health and happiness work overtime.
You’ll notice that when you practice nose breathing, your mind starts to calm down (begrudgingly at first). As you continue to practice you will perform better at the gym, your anxiety will lighten and you’ll even heal more quickly. In fact, studies show that nose breathing gets more oxygen into your tissues than mouth breathing…and is even more efficient during exercise!
Nose breathing is the number one way to de-stress, and is easier than you think.
How to nose breathe:
- Place your hands gently on your belly. You can do this standing, sitting comfortably in a chair, or lying in bed.
- As you inhale through your nose, feel your belly rise against your hands. (At first you may need to use your abdominal muscles.) Keep your upper chest from being the first thing to move. As you practice, and the diaphragm relaxes, it will take less effort.
- After the inhale, let your belly deflate naturally.
- A healthy calm breath cycle looks like this: exhale completely, inhale belly inflates, then breath moves up and chest slightly inflates, exhale and repeat.