By megfiddler

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Remember To Breathe

“Remember to breathe” is the advice I give many of my clients at the end of their massage session. They usually smile or laugh as if to say “Well duh.” The truth is that while we are of course breathing; we aren’t necessarily getting the most out of that breath. The average adult breathes between 12-20 breaths per minute or over 17,000 breaths in a 24-hour period.
Most of us are shallow breathers or chest breathers. What this means is that the diaphragm doesn’t move downward to the extent that is most beneficial. Shallow breathing doesn’t allow the lungs to expand into the abdomen. The lower portion of the lungs in turn doesn’t receive adequate amounts of oxygen. The lower lungs are filled with blood vessels that carry oxygen to our cells. When there is an inadequate amount of oxygen the heart and blood pressure rates increase. The benefit of abdominal breathing allows the diaphragm to move freely and the lower lungs to fill with oxygen and an expelling of carbon dioxide during exhalation.
I usually suggest my clients practice breathing techniques for a few minutes in the morning before they get out of bed and in the evening before they go to sleep. It is a nice way to begin and end a day.  The time spent doing these breathing techniques allows one the opportunity to feel the physical changes in their body as well as emotional changes.   It is also good to take a few moments during your day to practice as well, especially when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
The following are three examples of deep  breathing exercises. Relax and remember to breathe!

Full Diaphragm Breathing:
Find a comfortable place to lie flat on your back. Close your eyes. Place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your lower rib cage. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your breath to travel all the way from your abdomen to your collarbones. Feel your abdomen expand. Exhale sharply through your lips, feeling your abdomen flatten. Make sure the exhalation is longer than the inhalation. If you count to 5 for the inhalation, then count to 6 for the exhalation. Try to keep an even rhythm without pausing from one full cycle to the next. Do this breathing for a few minutes. Not only will it bring fresh oxygen to the muscles and release carbon dioxide, but also help alleviate stress. You can also do this in a sitting position prior to meditation.

Alternate Nostril Breathing:
Sit comfortably in a straight back chair or on the floor, just be sure to keep your head and spine in a straight, upright position. Bring your right hand to your nose, and then exhale deeply. Cover your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Exhale through your left nostril. Then cover your left nostril with your index finger. Inhale through the right nostril. Exhale through the right nostril. Switch again to cover the right nostril with your thumb and repeat the breathing pattern sequence. Try counting to 3 for the inhalation and then counting to 6 for the exhalation. This technique will help calm the nerves.

4-7-8 Breath
This is a nice technique to practice when feeling stressed, anxious, frustrated or angry. It is recommended by Dr. Andrew Weil.   Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the front teeth.  Breath in through your nose for a count of 4.  Hold your breath for a count of 7.  Exhale your breath audibly through your mouth with a whooshing sound for the count of 8—remember your tongue remains on the roof of your mouth for the entire exhale.  Count at a pace that is comfortable for you.  Repeat the 4-7-8 cycle  three times.  If you become lightheaded try counting a bit faster until you can gradually slow down, allowing the breaths to become deeper.