Abdominal breathing is the natural manner in which a person breathes when they are
relaxed and the mind is unencumbered by the stresses of life. When the stressors are allowed to overwhelm the person, the abdomen and the diaphragm become tight. By continuing to breathe in a shallow way, one can easily become overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control responding more reactively, rather than intuitively.
This type of breathing disturbs the flow of air and prana (conscious breathing) and affects the body and the mind respectively. When one breathes only in this way shallow), it is considered emotional breathing, as less air is exchanged in each breath.
This reduced circulation of air contributes to the emotions of anger, rage, and feelings of depression, anxiety, and panic. More often than not, this can become ones way of breathing for their entire life.
Most of my clients, from the ones seeking psychological help with their depression, panic disorders, and anxiety based symptoms, or my students of Yoga who want to learn Asana’s (postures), or learn to meditate, both seek the same thing in their lives; balance.
All can benefit first by learning how to breathe from their abdomens. The more one breathes deeply; more oxygen is taken in, thereby flooding the body on a cellular level, leaving the person more relaxed and present then before.
In yoga, if the student is serious enough about it, they will find a teacher who will teach them “how” to breathe rather than just saying, “Breathe”, in a soothing voice, as they try to do a “downward facing dog” or a “paripurna navasana”. If, eventually, you don’t learn how to breathe properly in yoga, then, you will leave your class with more anxiety
then when you walked in!
In therapy, I can see the emotional breath as a client rushes to “report” on what is happening to them. They report working with employers who rage at them or partners who don’t respect their boundaries. I find myself reassuring them to slow down in their reporting, reminding them that they have lots of time before their session is over.
Both, the client and the student are stuck in a cycle of never really exploring the way they breathe. One wants to stop running from their lives, while the other wants to be graceful and flexible. Both are motivated by fear, and fear is supported by shallow breathing.
Something as simple as learning to breathe can cost you from zero to hundreds of dollars in this town. The problem appears to be, in my forty years of doing and teaching yoga, and my twenty years of providing psychotherapy, is that “simple” is just that.
Very few have the discipline to stop what they are doing and take a few deep breaths. Many will require medication rather change how they breathe. I inform both, to take a break, the way many of us in the past, used to take a few minutes for a cigarette. Just taking a few minutes to breathe consciously is all that it takes to pick up a good “habit” and achieve that healthy balance that we all want.
Lie on your back. Arms relaxed by your side. Now, place a light book on
your stomach. Do this breath through the nose.
Your aim, on the inhale, is to fill your stomach first, then, finish the inhale
at the top of your lungs. Now exhale out very slowly until your stomach muscles are just this side of cramping. If the book resting on your stomach is rising up and down as you breathe, then you are doing abdominal breathing. With practice, you’ll be able do this in more subtle ways standing up, running, talking or meditating. It will bring you a sense of calmness and clarity. Repeat as often as you like.
For more information on John as a yoga teacher go to <a href=”http://www.thumbtack.com/Kali-Natha-Yoga-the-yoga-of-developing-the-Mystic-within-you-Los-Angeles-CA/service/1062451″>Kali Natha Yoga, the yoga of developing the Mystic within you.</a>