Stress and illness can affect how we breathe, impacting our digestion, cardiac and pulmonary function, nervous system and overall health. Luckily, we can control how and where we breathe in our bodies to change this.
Stress and illness can change the way we breathe, and though most of us are pretty sure we’ve been breathing alright since, you know, we’ve been at it for a while, what I want to introduce to you is the idea of noticing where your breath is in your body regularly throughout the day, and trying to consciously change that if needed.
Place one hand on your chest and one hand over your bellybutton. You can do this with legs bent or straight out, whichever is more comfortable.
Take a deep breath in through your nose and focus on feeling the hand on your belly rise. When you breathe out, the hand on your stomach should lower. Less is more - you don't have to push the belly out or suck it in, just calmly breathe in and out and notice where the breath is moving the body. Try to keep your inhale and exhale the same length: three seconds in, three out, four in, four out, or whatever feels like a good ratio for you.
Notice what happens if you’re breathing into the top hand: look how much more motion and muscle activity there is. Air is still getting into the lungs, but it takes much more effort!
If we go back to belly breathing, pay attention not just to the hand on your belly, but notice if you can feel your ribs expanding at your sides, and your back pressing against the ground , expanding like a balloon or a ripple in a pond with every inhale.
Note: If you have pain with deep breathing that does not resolve with stretches and exercise, please contact your medical provider.
Supine Absolute Basics – "The Bare Minimum"
Some of the absolute basic exercises that should be performed if you are bed-bound include ankle pumps, heel slides and rolling from side to side to change position. Doing these exercises regularly several times a day will help from developing blood clots, pressure ulcers or bedsores, and contractures (shortened, tight muscles).