…And Breathe! How Breathing Can Help our Health

Part of the work I do at Mind on Music is encouraging people to enhance their well-being with different exercises they can do themselves such as singing for health techniques. Before we even start to make a sound though, one of the simplest yet most effective (and probably my favourite) is working with our breath.

Across the world in different cultures, focusing on our breath is held as highly important. In Hindu culture, and so in yoga, the breath is called Prana and the focus on it- Pranayama. A lot of the exercises I do with the groups I work with are inspired by and based on yogic traditions. I am not a trained yoga teacher and do not claim to be able to teach yoga. However, we all learn from our daily lives and because I do so much yoga, I incorporate the things I’m inspired by along the way into my self-practice and also into the activities I bring to the groups.19398978_10155394488934414_355127316_n.jpg

One of the best methods of breathing work I’ve found is simply to count our in and out breaths, aiming to increase the length of time we can breath in and then exhale for.

Start with four beats in and four out, with a little pause in between and gradually increase this as you feel ready to. This will slow the breath down, in turn slowing your heart rate and bringing you into a calmer, more peaceful feeling. This is a very old and well-known way of stilling ourselves, yet in our busy lives we forget even how to breathe properly!

This way of breathing has us concentrate so that we can also begin to breathe fully, as many of us live taking in shallow, half-breaths. To breathe deeply, expand your whole abdomen so that your diaphragm (the muscle just at the base of our lungs) contracts and pushes your stomach forward.

It can take some time to strengthen our diaphragms as it is a muscle so just like we wouldn’t expect to lift heavy weight immediately, it can be an ongoing process before we can breathe in this way. But by focusing on it for a few minutes each day, this will be a great start towards making your respiratory system stronger and more resistant to illness, so hopefully avoiding the many colds that go round!

Breathing techniques are great for those with Asthma, COPD, and other cardiovascular problems too. They can also be very helpful for those with chronic pain as the slowing of heart rate can reduce pain as well as the attention being diverted for a time too.

Give the above technique a go this evening and see how you feel. You might want to go out in nature or create a healing space in your home with your favourite, relaxing things around you such as having a bath or a natural candle. That said though, you need no special equipment, only the space that you currently occupy and you don’t even need a quiet room, though to begin with you may prefer to be alone.

I would just say that if you do have any illness, please consult your doctor if you feel the need to do so before trying anything new and if you begin to feel dizzy or out of breath whilst undertaking the work, then do take a break or stop.

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Create Your Own Healing Space!

To recap:

  • Start with an in-breath for four counts, pause then an exhalation for four beats also.
  • Build this up slowly, adding a beat at a time until you feel you’ve reached your limit. With regular attention, you’ll notice this number rise over time!
  • To breathe fully, expand your stomach as you breathe so you’re using your diaphragm. Again, in time this will be easier!
  • You can begin this practice anywhere, but either outside in nature, or in a healing space you create can be extra special.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be sharing more techniques very soon so please do pop back!

Best Wishes,

Bexi

Mind on Music: Why I’m Starting a One Year Travel Challenge!

Sorry for my quietness this month so far! The reason is I’ve been squirrelling away at home, planning some very exciting things for the charity I recently set up- Mind on Music!

Mind on Music aims to promote health and well-being through the use of music and sound. We work with people who have a range of dis-eases such as chronic pain, mental health issues, dementia and POCD, in order to help them discover ways they may be able to cope with their challenges and even overcome them.

From August this year, I’ve decided to take this work around the WHOLE UK for ONE FULL YEAR! I’ll be spending each month for the next year travelling around a different area of the UK, visiting hospitals, community centres, schools, projects, anywhere the charity can help. I’ll perform for those who just want to be cheered up, I’ll run workshops for those who’d like to get involved and create and I’ll speak for those who wish to listen and learn about how music and sound can benefit them.

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I’ve felt the pull for some time now that I’m meant to be getting out there more, to be with people who need healing and love, which is why my singing seems to be taking me in a completely different direction than when I began as fully professional five years ago. That isn’t meant to sound patronising though I suppose it does in a way!  I still enjoy doing the fun private parties and celebrations and will continue to do these, I just feel as though my focus needs to be on using my voice to help others at this present time. I apologise if it does sound condescending, I’m doing my best and make mistakes like anyone but my intentions are pure I promise that!

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With lovely Elsie, smiles like her’s are why I do this!!

I need to learn a lot more too so I’ll be taking lots of training sessions along the way as I still have so much to discover about the power of music and sound and other therapies and I’m so excited about this.

It’s going to be a huge challenge both professionally and personally but I know that I’m ready for it and that this is what I need to be doing right now to help others and connect with as many people as I can.

I know some of you feel as though the world is becoming more hateful and whether this is the truth or whether it’s fear inducing media, it doesn’t change the fact that we need love and hope more than ever. If I can give this is in any small way to people along this journey then that will make it worthwhile and it’s the underlying reason for undertaking such a task.

I’ll be documenting it all on here, my facebook, insta and twitter in videos, blogs and pics so you can all come on this journey with me! Well you’ll feel like you are the amount I like to post haha!! I’ll still have lots of other posts though too, all the usual health, travel, spiritual, life posts so don’t worry (Oh you weren’t?! 😉 )

Thanks for all your support so far, I’m so thrilled to be sharing this next step with you all!

Best Wishes,

Bexi