Guest Columnist Catherine Farley: Breath = Balance for Better Health

imageHave you ever felt like you were on a see-saw and just couldn’t stop the “teeter-totter?” Or maybe a sense of entanglement where a direct path is difficult to envision. There are many times in our lives when we may experience these “sensations” or “feelings” that bring about worry or concern.

Whether the source seems to be rooted in work, family, health challenges, financial problems, or any other “teeter,” finding balance can come from within.
​Each of us can reflect back to a memory or feeling that took our breath away…a beautiful sunset over the ocean, a smile from a loved one, or holding your newborn baby or grandbaby for the first time. A breath”less” moment…can we have that feeling more often…YES we can!!
Throughout our time on the playground of life, we can achieve better balance with something so simple as our own breath. Not breath”less” moments, but breath”more” moments. YOU have the ability to produce the moments; straight from the core of your body.

When I refer to the core of your body, think shoulders to hips. Many of you that have taken group exercise classes or perhaps worked with a physical therapist probably have an understanding of this part of your body. We focus on this area when we look at our breathing patterns. If you are like me, it helps to have some steps to follow, so here we go:

1. Lie on your back in a comfortable position, (you can even use a pillow under your head and neck if you wish).

2. Close your eyes and begin to notice your breathing pattern. (What is moving in your core…your shoulders or your stomach?)

3. If your shoulders are moving, relax them.

4. Focus on the rise and fall of your stomach (this is your diaphragm and abdominals doing the work).

5. While inhaling or breathing in through your nose, sense the rise of your stomach. When exhaling or breathing out of your mouth, notice your stomach moving toward your back or the floor. You should aim to have the inhale and exhale time be about the same. (IE. work toward 5-10 seconds of breathing in and 5-10 seconds of breathing out.)

6. Practice this deep breathing exercise for 5-10 minutes a day.
And as they say, practice makes perfect! Well maybe not perfect (we ARE human afterall). But practice will allow for better performance and balance in your life. Soon, you will be surprised to find that you can rely on this technique throughout the day.

Catherine Farley, fitness columnist
Catherine Farley, PT, MPT

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