Triangles are your friend!
Ok – bear with me here! Shallow, rapid breaths are a message to the body that it should be prepared for fight or flight. They can perpetuate adrenaline release and keep us in SNS mode, even once stress or danger has passed. Conversely, breathing slowly, deeply and mindfully encourages the body to feel safe, allowing it to switch to PNS mode. A particularly effective way of signalling safety to the nervous system is by extending the length of your exhalation (in a dangerous situation, you wouldn’t have time to leisurely and completely empty your lungs!). A wonderfully simple Pranayama* exercise uses the concept of a triangle to regulate your in- and out-breaths.
1. Sit or lay comfortably (preferably with a straight spine)
2. Take a few moments to allow your breath to settle into its natural rhythm, and note how long each inhale and exhale lasts (for most people this is somewhere between 3 and 6 counts)
3. The idea now is to lengthen the exhale so it is twice as long as your inhale. So, using our triangle friend, we inhale for the length of one side (for example, a count of 3), and then exhale for the length of the two remaining sides (3 + 3), drawing the exhale out nice and long. Keep the breathing gentle – don’t force the breath, and if you find you are running out of exhale, try shortening the count. As your body relaxes, you may find that your inhales and exhales get naturally slower.
4. Once you return to the beginning point on the triangle, start again. Aim for a few minutes of triangle breathing as a daily practice, or whenever you are feeling the need to reduce stress.
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Chinese Medicine is a personalised, functional medicine that treats the individual and the root cause of their presenting imbalance (what conventional medicine would call the symptom, disease or condition). This means that your doctor of Chinese Medicine will work one-on-one with you to achieve a personalised treatment plan. As such, this podcast is for informational purposes and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe or substitute existing medical advice.
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