Our Mindfulness teacher Zelly Restorick explains the power of breath.
I’ve been reading about autonomic relaxation techniques in the book, Total Relaxation by John R. Harvey. In my last blog, I talked about the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS): sympathetic and para-sympathetic. The former activates the mind-body for fight or flight – and the latter moves the mind-body into a state designed for restoration and recuperation.
One system works for inhibition and one for activation – and they work in balance to keep us healthy. Autonomic tension occurs when this balance is lost and we experience either excessive activation of the sympathetic or the para sympathetic – or an erratic fluctuation between the two extremes.
We can use our breathing pattern to bring the ANS into balance.
According to Harvey, four distinctive dimensions of breathing affect the ANS: our inhale and exhale, the rate of our breath, thoracic v diaphragmatic breathing and smoothness.
Harvey suggests there are two ways to achieve balance and relaxation of the autonomic system: direct and indirect, including the practice of even, smooth diaphragmatic breathing, extending the length of our exhale, autogenic relaxation – a self-generated state of relaxation and restoration, exercise and visualization.
Time and practice are needed to re-program the autonomic nervous system from a state of constant tension, which we often experience in our Western lifestyles to a state of balance and relaxation.
The benefits are improved sleep, mental clarity and emotional balance and a decrease in digestive problems, anxiety, high blood pressure and headaches.
If you’d be interested in attending an introductory workshop to learn more about relaxing and balancing the autonomic nervous system, please contact us on 0208 314 5535.