I have been trialling various breathing techniques over the last few months to see if what is suggested by others, works. They all do I am pleased to say. However, what I have noticed recently as I get busier and busier is how I tend to hold my breath more and more.
As 'life' becomes faster and more complicated with technological advances, we tend to forget about the basics - conversing with others face-to-face, listening to the dawn chorus, noticing the vista as we drive by, taking a minute to centre ourselves, and breathing.
Some of you might say, "I do that every day", and you might well do so. But do you think about your breathing while doing so? Our breathing has become shorter and sharper these days. I know that if I stop and take three long slow quiet breaths I tend to get dizzy from the sudden intake of oxygen to the brain. My brain isn't acclimatised to that much oxygen.
More recently, I have discovered the benefit of a sigh. As our breathing becomes short and sharp, we tend to not fully expel all the air from our lungs. In the evenings as I sit down to slow down before bedtime, I have found myself sighing, a lot!
When I do sigh, I feel the tension going out of my muscles.
Sighing has long been associated with a sense of frustration and, for my generation, we where told that it was rude to sigh. No it's not. Importantly, I have since found out that sighing is a necessary part of our lung function.
Science indicates that, without sighing, tiny balloon-like sacs in our lungs known as alveoli can collapse and struggle to re-inflate themselves therefore we would have trouble continuing to breathe if we didn't sigh. When alveoli collapse, the lung struggles to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. The only way to pop them open again is to sigh, which subsequently brings in twice the volume of a normal breath.
So, when you feel yourself getting tense, when you feel like you aren't breathing adequately, when you feel like you might have too much air in your lungs, just sigh. Your Mum might not approve, but your body will.