About the art of breathing right

Christer Sundqvist

Our breathing is easily influenced by stress and other emotions. We hold our breath when frightened and our breathing is often too shallow, high up in the thorax. Today breathing plays a pivotal role in stress research. It has been shown that humans can regulate their bodily functions themselves through breathing. Consciously breathing you can for example lower your blood pressure, slow your pulse and raise your body temperature.


On March 11th 2001 medical specialist Harri Lindholm at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki said in a TV programme: “Here at the Institute we have been able to prove scientifically what Eastern medicine has said for centuries, perhaps even longer. Humans can regulate bodily functions through their breathing. It appears that respiration has dominion over the rest. As the breathing changes, the heart and blood circulatory functions follow. So if we consciously breathe in a healthy manner, slowly and deeply, we impact the heart and blood circulation in the same way, healthily. I have noticed this myself when doing breathing exercises. I have become livelier and more alert, associative abilities are restored, panic disappears. Relaxation through breathing is often more effective than medication.”




Sanna Ehdin says about breathing:


“It depends on your breathing – the more conscious breathing you get, the more energetic you become and the better you feel!! Most people breath too heavily through their mouth, but there are significant health improvements by constantly breathing through the nose. Our breathing rhythm is the process that has the greatest impact on our body. If you want more energy, improved breathing is the best way! ”




There are various biofeedback methods where one can follow through a screen how breathing exercises affect different body functions. The HeartMath Institute in the United States teaches a self-help method that creates coherence (= calm, harmony, interplay between body systems) using six breaths per minute (six slow exits and exits).


HeartMath breathing is now also practiced in Sweden and Finland.




You can also try one of the following exercises:




1. Lie on your back with a bag of rice on your stomach and your arms up under your head. This automatically centres your breathing correctly.


2. Inhale slowly and deeply while counting to 4. Hold your breath and count to 4. Exhale slowly and count to 6. Pause. Count to 2. Repeat 15 times. This gives your so called parasympathetic system time to comprehend the signal and you will feel calmer.


3. “3 breaths”



Inhale again – a little deeper this time

Now exhale a little more slowly, extend it.

Inhale a third time – more deeply still. Be conscious of how the air enters you. And feel how your inhalation fills your lungs.

Exhale – feel and observe. Exhale completely.

This is a breathing exercise that works wherever you are, anytime. It creates a bit of peace in the soul.

Try doing it 10 times during the next 24 hours – at work, in the car, in a lift…

No one will notice what you are doing.

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