In this 2 part video blog post I will teach you the fundamentals of the 6 seconds breath technique and you can use the shorter practise video to deepen your own practise.
This type of breathing involves using belling breathing to bring breath into the abdomen, filling that area fully, and release breath, releasing the abdomen back towards the spine. It can also be useful to employ Ujjayi breath.
With this type of breathing each in-breath is six seconds long and each out-breath is six seconds long. Cardiologists recommend this rate of breathing to steady the heart rate, it is seen as the ideal rate for a calm and relaxed body and mind.
Breathing in this way encourages a steady heart rate, allowing our nervous system to settle into a calm state, sending messages to the brain that all is well, the brain responds by lowering cortisol, one of our stress hormones, as well as producing endorphins and other chemicals that encourage feelings of calm.
Regular practice of timed breathing is seen in research to reduce stress and anxiety, to engage our parasympathetic nervous system which enables feelings of calm, and to reduce cortisol one of our stress hormones. Timed breathing can be seen to calm the nervous system when we feel fearful, anxious or distressed. Timed breathing is long and intentional. When we are doing it we need to be in a relaxed and comfortable position, and allow the body to be fully supported where possible.
The belly should fall back on the out breath with ease, and there should be no spaces in-between each breath, the in and out breath should flow easily from one to the other, like an ocean wave. This long slow belly breathing, engages our parasympathetic nervous system, telling out brains, all is well, all is safe and we can produce calming chemicals in the brain, and produce less cortisol, a stress hormone.
Each time we breathe in this way we exercise the parasympathetic nervous system and the vagus nerve that runs through it, helping this to become stronger and more efficient. This new strength and efficiency we’re building can help over time, to assist us finding it easier to return to feelings of calm and rest after feelings anxious stressed or experiencing panic.
The more often we practice the more easily and quickly we return our bodies and minds from states of anxiety and stress, to rest and calm. We can use this type of breathing as an emergency technique when we feel stressed or anxious, as well as as a way to build more strength in our nervous systems and become more resilient over time. Practice regularly to build this new autonomic nervous system resilience.