BY TAMMY TOOR
Happy New Year! Did you know that one of the biggest health and wellness trends for 2018 is predicted to be breath work? Breath work is
In their book The Healing Power of Breath, doctors Richard P. Brown and Patricia L. Gerbarg write, “Studies are revealing that by changing the patterns of breathing, it is possible to reduce stress, calm an agitated mind, relieve symptoms of anxiety and improve physical health and endurance.”
Sounds powerful. There are many ways to improve your breathing, but here are three tried and true breathing exercise methods that, if practiced, are sure to improve your health:
Pursed-lip breathing method – This is the easiest one to start with. With relaxed shoulders, take a normal breath in for about two counts. Then pucker your lips and exhale for about four counts. Repeat this pattern a few times.
4-7-8 method – In this technique, you exhale through your mouth and then close it and inhale through your nose for four counts. You hold the breath in for seven counts and then release it for eight counts. Repeat at least three times.
Belly-breathing method – Also known as ‘abdominal breathing.’ With your shoulders back, keep one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. As you breathe in deeply for about two seconds, your belly should stick out a bit. Feel the air expanding your stomach and then breathe out slowly through your lips.
By incorporating breathing exercises, a message is sent to our nervous system saying that things are okay resulting in a reduction of anxiety and stress. Like mastering any new skill, these methods take practice, but you can practise these skills almost anywhere and anytime.
Parks and recreation has many programs available for registration to keep you active and healthy this winter season, including a variety of yoga and fitness classes that incorporate better breathing techniques. Even taking an arts and crafts, cooking, language and music class can be a great stress reliever. Check out our activity guide, visit our website at www.nanaimo.ca or call our experienced staff at 250-756-5200 for details.
The staff at parks and recreation wish you and your family a happy, healthy and active 2018!
Tammy Toor is a graphics and communications specialist with the City of Nanaimo.