Do you have a friend who has one of those really joyful laughs where it feels like they are laughing from the belly? Sort of like Santa Claus when he Ho Ho’s? Or have you noticed the belly on Buddha- round and plump? Or that of a child? I have often watched my 4 year old strut around the room with a belly as round as could be and a smile across her face. As a woman, I don’t know about you but in the past, I was often more concerned with sucking it in then letting it out. But, the belly breath is an amazing tool to bringing a rootedness, calmness, and centering to the body. And the breath is key to helping all of the body’s processes.
Mastering the breath takes time and there are so many different breathing practices within yoga, it can be intimidating where to start and a dis belief as to how powerful it is. Today in class, we focused on the belly breath. To try, come to lie on your back, knees bent and place both hands on the belly. Close your eyes and inhale as you bring air into the belly and you feel your hand rise. Exhale through your lips as your stomach muscles contract and air is released causing the hands to fall. Try this for 5 to 10 minutes each day feeling the rise and fall and the undulation of the belly.
Have fun with it, play some music that relaxes you.
Benefits to belly breathing include:
- Relaxation – as busy people, we can sometimes spend more time in fight or flight response than the rest and digest. This breath engages the parasympathetic nervous system to help calm the body. Belly breathing activates the parasympathetic system.
- Improves Exercise Recovery – Athletes often endure exhausting workouts and as adults and parents – we sometimes have exhausting days where we may not have taken a moment to sit down. The body is able to recover more quickly and stay balanced with time to “rest and renew”. 10 minutes a day of belly breathing helps.
- Improves Digestion and Glucose Levels – I don’t know about you but I know what a spike or fall in blood sugar feels like. Studies are showing that belly breathing helps balance blood sugar as well as improve digestion. Try belly breathing before a meal and sit down to eat! What may require slightly more time in the beginning has numerous health benefits long term.
- Strengthens the lungs – The stretching and constricting of the diaphragm also helps strengthen and open the lungs resulting in increased lung capacity.
- Changes Gene Expression – The body’s ability to relax can have a powerful impact on the immune system, energy metabolism, and gene expression. Studies have shown that deep breathing techniques enhanced energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, and telomere maintenance while decreasing the inflammation response and stress related pathways.
So this week’s focus is to make our bellies bigger! With air! Practice for 10 minutes a day and if you have time 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening. Comment below if you’d like to share what you experience.
Namaste & Have a great week