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Part of the Pure Beauty mission is to encourage healthy living habits. After a crazy town week that seemed like I might not make it through without a spa therapy session at the Umstead Spa in Cary NC, I realized how many moments I seemed to be gasping for breath from the self-induced stress I was under. Even just now, I had to breathe in deeply. 

Being a yogini of 14 years now, I have learned to recognize stress and managing with mindful meditation and breathwork. However, there are still moments in life when I forget to breathe and I suddenly realize that I feel like I am gasping fo air.

 

What happens when we stop breathing deeply?

Aging- because our airways become tensed and constricted slowing down the oxygen available to our cells. Guess what? That equals faster aging  because our cells need adequate oxygen to regenerate and build. 

Tense Muscles- when our breathing becomes erratic and tense our entire nervous system begins to tense as well, which leads to further stress on the body. Thus the reason for feeling tired, run down, and anxious, with the added bonus of painfully tight shoulders, or that beautiful furrowed brow. 

Brain Fog - the blood vessels tighten from the short gasping breath and our brain which uses 20% of the oxygen we take in then is depleted of the oxygen it needs to function optimally. Our thoughts get mixed up, we can't find our keys, and we begin to think of less healthy ways to "get through" the moment - coffee, sugar, alcohol. 

How to breathe properly to reduce stress, regenerate our cells, and give the brain the oxygen it needs. 

Taking a quick short deep breath through the nose, and then releasing it quickly through the mouth is what most of us do, but this only releases stress and tension for a moment, here are five ways to breathe deep and feel more balanced and refreshed to tackle our day with beauty -  

1. Take slow, diaphragmatic breaths in through the nose. Just this action will begin to slow the hormone production that makes us stay in the fight or flight response mode. It begins to reintroduce oxygen back into the blood stream and allows the release of blood vessels - so we feel calmer. 

2. Count as you breathe in 10 seconds breathe in, 10 seconds breathe out. This will slow down the nervous system and increase oxygen, allowing for the brain to feel release. The focused counting also redirects our thoughts to the vital act of breathing life back into our body.

3. Close the eyes and picture the breath - starting the breath at the top of the chest filling the lungs and feeling the breath all the way to the belly. Then release the breath fully to the bottom of the belly. We often don't fully breathe in or out, so filling the lungs with fresh air and releasing the stale air can rejuvenate the entire body. Getting in all that fresh air and using the diaphragm can also reduce tension in the belly and digestive system. 

4. Breath of Fire. Inducing a panting response can actually lower our stress level by releasing the feeling of shortened stress breathing. Breath of fire is using the diaphragm to push out the breath rapidly and inhaling a short breath back in. I love this one if I am feeling nervous. Lost? Here is a youtube video on how to - 

 

 5. Balance the breath. Alternate nostril breathing is my favorite way to balance the monkey mind and bring back and inner peace. it feels awkward at first but after the first time you complete the several rounds, you notice a more calm and balanced state of being. Instead of trying to explain -  here is another video...try this..YOU WILL LOVE IT!

 

How did it feel! Amazing right!

All this breathing business is so important. Thankfully we have our autonomic nervous system to make us breathe automatically. Unfortunately, it doesn't remind us to breathe well, so practicing breathing fully begins to replenish our bodies, lower our stress, and build up our cells. Resulting in glowing skin, reduced stress, and a more present state of mind. 

How did you feel after practising one of these techniques?