Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

info@positivelifechanges.ca
778-558-8207

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

You might wonder how breathing can alleviate stress… it’s not as if you weren’t breathing the last time you were stressed or anxious. But if you think about how you tend to breathe when you’re tense, you will most likely realize that your breathing is quite shallow.

I’d like to thank North Vancouver Kinesiologist Raina Croner who facilitates Corrective Exercise Therapy & Personal Health Training at www.inspiringmovement.com (604-760-1205) for generously contributing this guest blog post and sharing some of her knowledge about breathing.

This is what she writes:

You can breathe through anything…I truly believe this for all of our life experiences and activities.  As babies, we are born with the natural and healthy ability to breath from our bellies.  With age, most people shift from this healthy abdominal breathing to shallow chest breathing.  Breathing is the one bodily function we can do either unconsciously or consciously.

Practitioners of Yoga have known for centuries about the importance of guided breathing, and Western cultures are now embracing the benefits of breathing correctly. We develop unhealthy habits without being aware of it, such as: poor posture and being sedentary with diminishes lung capacity, daily responsibilities are demanding and we forget to breathe, and also muscle tension resulting in faster and shallower breathes.  This shallow, quick breathing:

  • Decreases oxygen intake and carbon dioxide elimination.
  • Can decrease our lung function
  • Decrease oxygen leads to reduced vitality, premature ageing, poor immune system function… just to name a few!

We have created this shallow, quick breathing because we are in too much of a hurry most of the time, have an increase in stress and therefore have developed a reactive negative response to our environment – easily excitable, angry and anxiety.  These all affect our rate of breathing.  Keeping us in a constant state of “fight”!

Yogis believe that the nose functions to absorb Prana (the Sanskrit word for “vital life”; one of the five organs of vitality prana “breath” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prana), therefore if you breathe through your mouth and NOT your nose you are missing all the vital energy (prana).  They also say that this is a major factor in our lowered resistance to disease and impairment of our vital glands and nervous system.  Therefore, Yoga proves to have beneficial effects on the body if done with proper breathing.

You don’t have to be a yogi to practice good breathing, here is a simple technique that you can implement into your day with ease.  You can start with just spending a few minutes a day practicing, practice at times of acute stress or just add to your morning/bedtime routines.  Before long you will breathe easier and experience amazing improvements in your life.

How to breathe deeply

How many times have you heard the expressions “take a deep breath” and “breathe through your diaphragm”? If you’re not really sure how to, try this exercise:

  1. Start by lying on the floor on your back. (This will make it easier to develop the proper deep breathing technique the first couple of times.)
  2. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly just above your waist.
  3. Breathe in slowly through your nose. You should feel the hand on your belly rise.
  4. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. The hand on your belly should gradually lower.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times, then focus on allowing your ribcage to expand and widen as your belly moves out, so that you are filling up your entire lungs, from bottom to top.

Because as a counsellor I specialize in Somatic Psychotherapy, clients who work with me in my counselling office in Burnaby or on the North Shore will tell you that among other things, we focus on breathing.

Whether it is Addiction Counselling or Divorce Counselling… all our work together usually addresses anxiety, stress, trauma and /or some form of depression.

Breathing techniques are a great resource to self-soothe in every situation. Best of all, influencing our emotions and the tension in our body thru breath is free, healthy and always available to us.

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