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Breathe And Relax, Vagus Is Back In Town!

This week I had the pleasure of working with some of the best therapists in the field of holistic care for people living with cancer. From GP’s, nurses, accupuncturists and counsellors through to dance therapists and volunteers, this collective of multi-disciplined experts work tirelessly at  Penny Brohn Cancer Care in what’s become known as The Bristol Approach Programme.

Their unique approach incorporates physical, emotional and spiritual support alongside mainstream medicine. Using complimentary therapies and self-help techniques they support individuals and their carers, ALL OF WHICH IS ENABLED BY DONATION! Yes, I know I’m shouting, but I think you’ll agree this is a message worth spreading. Please take a moment to check out their website from the link above and help get involved if you feel so inclined.

At the centre, facilitator and Shiatsu practitioner Markus reminded me of the power of a simple breathing technique, which I’d like to share with you now.

As you continue to read this, take a slow deep inhalation through your nose and as you gradually exhale  through the mouth, toward the end of the breath gently sigh the word Haaaa…. and again, breathe in slowly through your nose, pause  before the exhalation and as if  with a satisfied sigh, Haaaaa the breath out slowly.   Go on take one more breath.file0002115718863

Treat yourself to this little gem several times an hour and take a moment to feel the ebb and flow of your breath and notice how you feel. Relaxed and chilled I’ll bet.

Following on from Adrian’s blog last week (thanks Adrian) in which he introduced us to the vagus nerve, it might interest you to know that the vagus nerve is also involved in the above breathing technique.

Imagine this nerve like a meandering river that winds and wanders throughout the body from the brainstem to the abdomen, it gently touches body parts on it’s journey, the tongue, vocal chords and major organs like the heart, lungs, stomach, intestines and also glands that produce anti-stress enzymes and hormones. As it touches these organs it subtly influences such things as digestion, metabolism and the relaxation response.DSC_1565

When we make time to take a slow deep breath through the nose and gently exhale though the mouth Haaaa we encourage the relaxation response and just for a short time everything feels right in the world, as we send powerful messages of relaxation throughout the mind and body.

When we practice this type of conscious breathing it has the effect of keeping us present, allowing us space to step back from the ‘daily dramas’ of life.  We can temporarily quell anxiety and remind ourselves that a reservoir of peace is always just a breath away.

Please feel free to add your comments below and let us  know your experiences of taking your fair share of life force and energy in this way!



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