The breathing exercises that will change your life
It spent four weeks on the Sunday Times Bestseller list, capturing a nation of stressed-out, anxious people. Breath by American author James Nestor claims that just 20 minutes of special breathing could change your life.
James joins us from his home in San Francisco to explain why, before showing us two simple, yet effective, breathing techniques.
Without stating the obvious, James thinks that breathing is the entire basis to a healthy life: "The main reason why breathing is so important is that it allows your body to do what it is meant to do. It's the most basic and important function for you to survive. You can exercise and eat well, but if you're not breathing properly, then blood isn't flowing properly around your body, you're not getting enough oxygen to the brain, you're not stabilising the heart rate. Breathing properly is a blanket prescription that can help both mental and physical health".
James thinks the key is not to breathe in and out through your mouth. Instead, we should breathe in and out through our nose (nasal breathing) - as demonstrated in the techniques below.
Two exercises to help combat stress
1. Six seconds in, six seconds out. The first technique is to simply inhale through the nose for six seconds, and exhale for six seconds. It's great for slowing the heart rate, increasing the blood flow, and entering into a state of relaxation. Even if you take a few minutes out of your day to do this, you'll start to feel the benefits immediately.
2. The four-seven-eight method. In this technique, you inhale for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds, and and then exhale for eight seconds. By exhaling for longer, you become more restful, reducing your heart rate.