The breath plays an important role and has a powerful influence over our physiological and psychological well-being. Breathing is something we don’t pay a great deal of attention too. In fact, its is an unconscious response we do naturally. What I teach my patients is conscious breathing and conscious awareness; it is a form of mindfulness.
Have you ever noticed when in a stressful situation that your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes more shallow or labored. This is our body going into what we call the “Flight or fight” response. All you can think is, how can I get out of this situation. Your head is screaming, “run”. In this heightened state our body begins to produce the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is well known for its impact on fertility. Stress reduces the changes of conceiving with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) according to recent studies.
Different types of breathing patterns have distinct physiological effects. When we connect to conscious breath, it triggers the physiological response of rest and digest. Everything in the body begins to slow down; our heart rate, our mind, our breathing becomes deeper and consciously we begin to connect into our body. Suddenly, we notice we are in a more relaxed state.
The breath we want to promote in fertility is the belly breath. Slow deep rhythmic abdominal breathing. Belly breathing stimulates our vagus nerve, which controls important body functions such as respiration and digestion and sends sensory information to the brain. Using this breath shifts the hormonal milieu in the body from “flight or fight” to “rest, digest and nest”.
Close your eyes and focus on breath. Begin to identify your breathing pattern. Are you holding tension in your shoulders, back and neck? Is your belly moving?
If you’re not using belly breath, try this exercise.
- Lie down on the floor with legs extended.
- Place your right hand on your heart and left hand on your lower belly
- Close your eyes and begin to breath in and out of your nose.
- As you inhale feel your belly expand. Breath into your belly
- As you exhale, feel your belly contract, gently drawing belly to spine.
Continue this belly breathing for 5-10 minutes.