The smart traveller’s guide to breathing

‘These are stressful times. We’re busy, on the move a lot – and in a hurry to get there. We have become a generation of shallow breathers and it’s not doing us much good. Not using all of our lung capacity means we don’t oxygenate as much as we could and we don’t expel the toxins at the bottom of our lungs.

‘These are stressful times. We’re busy, on the move a lot – and in a hurry to get there. We have become a generation of shallow breathers and it’s not doing us much good. Not using all of our lung capacity means we don’t oxygenate as much as we could and we don’t expel the toxins at the bottom of our lungs.

And no matter how comfortable flying has become, sitting still for 10 hours doesn’t do much for us either, so why not use the time to think about how we breathe?
Doing a few yogic breathing exercises and focusing on the mechanics of our breathing can have a dramatic effect on how we feel: physically, mentally and emotionally.

It’s a simple technique to master and a long flight is a good time to practise.

The traditional yogic breathing consists of three stages: abdominal, thoracic and clavicular breathing. Deep, rhythmic and slow breathing stimulates a balanced, calm and content state of mind. In addition it fuels the metabolising of the oxygen needed to power muscular and mental processes.

The result is a relaxed body, a focused mind and an overall enhanced sense of wellbeing.

Sit up with a straight spine and begin by placing the right hand on the abdomen and the left hand over the centre of the chest and observe your spontaneous breath for a few minutes. This will develop your awareness of the most vital process of the body. Always breathe through the nose and ensure that respiration is comfortable and relaxed. Then take a long and slow breath in and expand the abdomen as much as possible without expanding the rib cage. Towards the end of the exhalation gently contract the abdomen and pull the navel in and up towards the spine. Practise this for a few minutes.

Once you have mastered that, work on the chest. Sit up straight, keep the diaphragm still and inhale slowly using the chest muscles, allowing the chest and rib cage to expand as much as possible. Do not strain. Continue thoracic breathing for a few minutes pausing slightly after each inhalation and exhalation.

The final part of the yogic breath takes place in the upper part of the chest. Inhale, fully expanding the ribcage and when the ribs are fully expanded, inhale a little more until expansion is felt in the upper portion of the lungs around the base of the neck. The shoulders and collarbone should also move up slightly. Exhale slowly, first releasing the lower neck and upper chest before relaxing the ribcage.

Then put all three processes together in that order. Sit up straight, and breathe in starting at the abdomen, then the chest and finally the collarbone. And exhale in the reverse order, starting from releasing the upper chest, then the ribcage and finally the abdomen.

Not only is this good for you and relaxing, but it’s meditative too because you are fully in the present moment and more focused on your practice than the world around you. Now you can relax and enjoy the journey.’

Laura Vallati is spa director of ESPA Life at The Corinthia Hotel, London. She is an expert yogini with many years of personal practice and teaching experience that she is bringing to guests with a series of bespoke Everyday Wellness session based around breathing, relaxation and exercise.

Image: JW LTD

 

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