Stress and Respiration
The relationship between stress and respiration is a chicken and egg one. Which came first?
- Psychological stress impacts on respiration. It often induces shallower, more rapid, breathing.
- Shallow, rapid, breathing can induce physiological stress that causes physical anxiety. Those feelings of anxiety that are often described as “butterflies”, the ones that can make you feel sick.
- Those symptoms of physical stress lead to a deepening of psychological stress.
- Combined, they set a detrimental cycle in motion. A cycle that grows in strength unless it is broken.
So it appears that the question of which came first is not really relevant. What is relevant is that we are empowered to break the cycle by learning how to regulate our breathing.
Stress and Respiration – Where are you placed?
What is your respiration rate? Breathing at your normal rate, how many times do you respire (breath in and out) per minute? Go on, test yourself but do not force yourself to breathe slowly………. Breathe at your normal rate. It is not a competition! 12 to 16 respirations per minute is good………. Upwards of 16 is not so good…………….. 20+ and you are heading for the realms of hyperventilation.
Stress and Respiration – Using the cycle beneficially
Qigong exercises utilise relaxed, deep, abdominal breathing to calm the body and the mind. They are simple and effective, and only take a few minutes to do. They lower both psychological and physiological stress through the use of biofeedback.
- The practitioner does the exercise at their own respiration rate (this can be high to begin with).
- The focus on the breathing and the repetitive movement starts to affect the brainwave pattern, lowering it to Alpha wave.
- Alpha relaxes the body and the breathing becomes more relaxed and deeper.
- This, in turn, lowers the brainwave pattern further and induces further relaxation and a feeling of wellbeing.
Practiced on a regular basis, the practitioner’s respiration becomes slower, deeper, and more relaxed. This can stop the stress cycle from being formed and induces calmness even in stressful situations.
Before moving on to the Qigong video I would like to give some instructions on how to practice abdominal breathing, using the diaphragm muscle and the abdominal muscles to increase your intake of air. This can be practiced either standing or when lying in the supine (on your back) position.
- Place your hands over your lower abdomen and feel for it expanding and contracting. Don’t worry if you do not feel this as you are in the majority. Most adults shallow breathe to the chest.
- Keeping your hands in the same position, on inhalation gently force that expansion. Gently does it because later on there will be no need for this forcing.
- On exhalation, let the abdominal muscles relax before applying a small amount of tension to pull up to and slightly under the ribs.
- On inhalation, relax and let the abdomen expand.
- Follow this pattern and visualize this expansion getting larger and larger and, before long, you will no longer need to force it as the relaxation becomes enough.
- Daily, regular, practice will eventually educate your body to adopt this natural, more efficient, way of breathing.
Stress and Respiration – Pressing Palms in Calmness
In this short video I will show you a very simple Qigong exercise called “Pressing Palms in Calmness”. This Qigong has been practiced for thousands of years and it does what it says on the tin as it lowers stress and anxiety. I can vouch for it and it has been tried, tested and given the thumbs up by students and clients.
Then, once you have had a chance to become familiar with the Qigong you can then compare how you feel, and also compare your respiration rate before and after practice.
This video is for demonstration purposes only and is not meant as a teaching tool. It is vital that the Qigong are carried out correctly for their full benefits to be appreciated and to do this the practitioner needs to be aware of, and to make use of, all the subtleties that lie within the movements. This is why this video can only go part way to convey the Internal workings of Qigong and trying to understand what is happening by merely following a video is not enough. However, even by copying the movement and breathing, some benefits may still be felt.
I hope that you find this Qigong useful.
Interested in Qigong? Why not join our Qigong community on Facebook. We are a group of friendly practitioners who are keen to share their experience! Click here to request to join – San Bao Qigong
The therapies provided by Pro Holistic are of a Complementary nature. You are advised, in the first instance, to consult a medical practitioner in order that you receive a medical diagnosis. Self-diagnosis is not recommended and internet-based advice is no substitute for a face-to-face visit with a medical practitioner.