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The importance of our breath: pranayama

Updated: May 25


Do you breathe properly? 


You’re probably laughing as you read this... “of course I breathe properly - otherwise I wouldn’t be alive!”.


But so many of us fall into poor breathing habits by adopting upper chest breathing patterns. Our breath is controlled by a primitive part of our brain and is therefore highly influenced by our emotional states. 


Fear, stress and anxiety can change your breathing pattern, increasing its pace and making it less efficient. Holding tension in your stomach, whether from fear of pain or out of self-consciousness over your body image has a significant impact on your breathing. It reduces the effect of our diaphragm and makes our breathing shallow. This sends a signal to our brain to put us in a stress response activating our sympathetic nervous system.


As a physiotherapist, I see so many patients whose breathing patterns are negatively affecting them. Whether that’s increase in neck pain because their neck muscles are overworking, or decrease in gut motility or in some cases overactivity through the pelvic floor.


If we can simply become more aware of our breath throughout the day, especially in a resting state, we will begin to retrain this diaphragmatic breathing pattern and increase our relaxation (parasympathetic) response.


My tips: 

  • Relax your stomach muscles: this may be the fault of physiotherapists and the fitness industry telling us to always engage our 'core' but when we are sitting and resting these muscles should be relaxed!

  • Become more aware throughout the day of where your breath is traveling in your body. Notice whether it travels to your chest or down to your belly.

  • Without forcing the belly out try to allow the breath to move further down into your abdomen

  • Notice how the belly rises and falls with each breath

  • Become aware of the length of each breath


Check out my videos for a breathing meditation





#breathing #pranayama #mindfulness #diaphragmaticbreathing

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