Fun Fact: Only 5 to 20 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing (belly breath) activates our relaxation system and keeps the reactive core of the brain (prefrontal cortex) from overheating. When we intentionally breathe deep many internal reactions happen to aid in mental focus, reduction of stress, increased joy and inner enthusiasm. Here’s how…the abdominal cavity presses down on the Vagus nerve at the base of the spine. This nerve goes from the brain stem to the base of the spine.
Once activated the following happens …
1. Blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration lower
2. Lactate gets cleansed from the blood (lactate increases feelings of anxiety)
3. Alpha brain waves are increased (calm and alert)
4. Neurotransmitter for serotonin is activated and released to the brain within 20 -30 seconds.
5. Activates and oxygenates the mindful thinking part of the brain (prefrontal cortex).
Voila’! No wonder deep breathing helps you feel better!!!!
Mindful Exercise: 1 to 5 minutes
Transition Breathing: Choose a time of transition throughout the day to just stop and take 5 to 20 deep breaths. For example I choose to transition breathe every time I get into my car and out of my car. Creating a mindful habit of short moments of mindfulness like simply stopping, breathing and being present for less than a minute, greatly increases your overall focus and awareness, in a very short period of time!
Here’s a talk from TEDxChapmanU by Stacey Schuerman about breathing, including a guided Mindful Breathing exercise: