Reinhard: Proper breathing techniques are crucial

Christmas is less than a month away, so let’s get ourselves into shape. The Christmas season is usually a happy, emotional and grateful time, but it can come with its fair share of stress trying to get ready, missing loved ones no longer with us and an unaffordable financial drain for some.

In order to cope with whatever may come along we must first feel healthy, relieve anxiety, emotional stress and increase our energy levels.

Breathing is something we do without thinking and take for granted. There is a right way to breathe, but many people don’t practise it. If a person’s chest rises as they take a breath, it is an indicator of improper breathing. A proper breath will draw air into the lungs, pushing the diaphragm down and visibly expanding the belly.

As people age, they’re more likely to develop respiratory complications. Following are some exercises which can alleviate symptoms associated with asthma attacks, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, sleep apnea and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

The first is Diaphragmatic Breathing. Sit up straight, with one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest.

Inhale slowly and deeply through the nostrils, feeling the stomach expand with each full breath. Exhale slowly out of the mouth. Repeat six or more times each minute for up to 15 minutes.

The second is the 4-7-8 Technique also used in Yoga classes. Breathe out fully through the mouth, creating a wind-like ‘whoosh’ sound.

Keeping the mouth closed, inhale through the nose while silently counting to four. Hold this breath while counting to seven. Exhale through the mouth for a count of eight (slowly), repeating the ‘whoosh’ sound. Repeat five times.

This is one of the most effective ways to fall asleep. It eases tension and promotes relaxation.

Practising this method twice a day will help minimize food cravings, reduce anxiety and provide relief from insomnia.

Choose the method best for you and be consistent.

With a regular breathing routine, you will feel better almost immediately. Try to track your progress with a diary so you will recognize improvement, which will give you incentive to maintain your new regime.

Be sure to note any significant changes to your health.

Remain aware of your breathing, we breathe more than 25,000 times each day. Here is the good news – if you remain vigilant, it will give you improved physical health, a renewed sense of mental alertness and clarity in only a few weeks.

Karla Reinhard lives in Qualicum Beach, where she explores seniors’ issues and personalities in the area. For story tips or questions, she can be reached at karlainpqb@gmail.com

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