Breathing! - Why focus on it

by Nancy Bain

(08/2019 - This is one of Nancy Bain's classes at Unity Church of the Hills celebrating her birthday last year.)

Greetings to all PfP students, families and our followers! I feel grateful that I can teach each week on YouTube right now! Connecting with you, even though I can’t see you, is helping me through all of this! I am so proud to work for PfP and join the other wonderful instructors in our live-streaming of classes.

You may have noticed that I start my classes with a breathing sequence. I’ve been doing that for over a year, since one participant suggested it. Since then, I’ve had numerous participants tell me they use these techniques for many circumstances in addition to our classes.

Slow, deep breathing has a number of benefits. By “slow”, I mean breathing in slowly

( 1 inhale) on a count, and breathing out slowly ( 1 exhale) on a count. This simple breathing technique helps focus the mind on breathing (as opposed to thinking about everything else on our minds), and to begin to control our breath, slow it down. Shallow, faster breathing can make you feel short of breath, possibly dizzy, and even anxious. By controlling the breath on a count, we start class off more focused. By “deep”, I mean abdominal breathing, also called “diaphragmatic” breathing. This is where you inhale slowly through your nose, and your lower belly rises (as in “inflating the balloon in all 4 directions”), followed by a long slow exhale (in my classes we make a soft hissing noise to let the air out). This type of breathing allows for more oxygen to come into the body, and more carbon dioxide to go out, or “full oxygen exchange”.

The benefits of deep breathing include 1) slowing your heart rate, 2) lowering or stabilizing your blood pressure, 3) relaxing your belly and tense muscles, which can help muscles work more efficiently, and 4) reducing your stress levels, anxiety and even depression (elevated stress response can also suppress our immune system). And that’s in addition to improving your focus and concentration for your class!

I’m sure you can see why these breathing techniques can be beneficial for people with PD!

I, along with a number of my participants, have also used these breathing techniques when dealing with pain, while at the dentist, before undergoing surgery, and in sudden stressful situations. I’ve seen them work for children too!

I also ask participants to count out loud or say specific words while performing many exercises. Of course, this works the voice, which is crucial for PD, but it’s a sneaky way for me to make sure you are breathing while you exercise! You get “more bang for your buck” when you breathe while moving!

I hope this information helps you! I look forward to your comments and shout-outs during my Monday classes! Stay safe and well!

With gratitude,

Nancy Bain

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