• Elaine Marie Ewens

How to breathe better...

Have you ever noticed you are holding your breath?

Maybe when you are focusing on something intently or when you are stressed. We all do it from time to time - no big deal. It is a normal response seen in animals as part of the fight, fight, freeze response - sometimes freezing can save your life (S. E. Korika). But what if it has become a habit?



If you are holding your breath unintentionally multiple times a day, it has an impact. Your muscles tighten and your mind tightens too. Everything is connected. This is called the frozen breath and can be a result of more longer term fear - maybe learnt fear of not achieving or a long term trauma (Donna Farhi). And a tight breath, body and mind brings more stress into your system, a reduction in circulation, ill health and a lack of free flowing of the mind. Ultimately you are less able to adjust and react positively to your situation.


For me the tight breath occurred once when horse riding in my teens. My horse decided to liven up the lesson and took control, careering around the arena. I will never forget the instruction of my teacher -

“Elaine BREATHE!”.


She didn’t criticise my riding or give me instructions on riding technique, simply told me to breathe.

When we breathe, everything starts to function more fluidly. We are able to ‘come up for air’. I stopped panicking, I was able to appreciate the situation wasn’t so terrifying and I gently brought the horse back to a more steady state. My first invaluable lesson on the power of the breath.


So the next time you are panicking in a certain situation, check in with yourself:

Are you breathing?

Can you give yourself the space to ‘come up for air’?


Sometimes it is as simple as that - have the awareness, accept yourself with kindness and take positive action - BREATHE : )


Bibliography

S. E. Korika - https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-unconsciously-hold-their-breath-in-a-stress-situation

Donna Farhi - Breathing Book, 1996


Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash