Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Just Breathe...

***This post is sponsored by The Breathing App***
Have you ever thought about the simple act of breathing?

It's one of those natural bodily functions that most of us take for granted. We breathe slowly when we're at rest, and we breathe excitedly when we're anxious or being active. Most of our breathing is a result of our actions, but it is possible to actively control our breathing as well.

Enter The Breathing App!


Developed by Edwin Stern and Deepak Chopra , The Breathing App (click HERE for website) is based on resonant breathing. By teaching oneself how to slow down...taking in as few as six breathes in a minute (instead of the typical 15-18), will not only calm your body, but also your mind.

How does it work, and what are the benefits?

From the website:
The effects of resonance supports the innate ability of our body, nervous system, and emotions to restore themselves through the balancing of the complementary branches of our autonomic nervous system, which control our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, respiration, and many other automatic functions of the body.
There have been hundreds of scientific studies performed on resonant breathing since 1963, which show a wide array of benefits, including:
  • Increases pulmonary function
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Has positive applications for anxiety and depression
  • Improves baroreflex gain
  • Improves heart rate variability
  • Tones the vagus nerve
  • Increases resiliency
  • Increases the ability to handle stress
  • Leads towards emotional balance
  • Clinical improvements in asthma
Anyone who knows me will attest to my lack of technology gadgets and know-how. Well, The Breathing App is a perfect fit for me. It's very basic in what it does, but very user-friendly.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Let's chat about simplicity. Using this app involves TWO simple choices...(1) the length of time you have available to practice the breathing (anywhere from one minute to 30 minutes) and (2) the breath ratio.

This can be practiced once a day, or several times a day (as your schedule allows). Like any kind of relaxation method, it is most effective if used daily (ideally from 10-20 minutes). You can choose any position that works for you...sitting, lying down, eyes open or closed (if using the musical cues).

As for the breathing ratio, you have four choices:
**inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6
**inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5
**inhale for 6 seconds, exhale for 6 (which is TRUE resonance)
**inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 7


Also, for the breathing ratios, you have three screens to choose from to guide you as you inhale/exhale: (1) A breathing "ball" that inflates as you inhale, and deflates to cue your exhaling, (2) a "galaxy-inspired" screen that has musical cues to guide the inhale/exhale, and (3) a clock that counts up (for the inhale) and down (for the exhale).


Each screen has your timer in the lower left corner, and controls you can tap on the lower right (the clock will let you alter the length of your breathing session; the middle icon reflects your inhale/exhale ratio; the "i" will take you to the main control panel for additional information).

My thoughts and observations:

*It took me awhile to acclimate to using the app to control my breathing. The first couple of minutes of each session were always a struggle to stay in rhythm with the timer. After those initial minutes, though, I found myself easing into a deep breathing pattern and the inhales/exhales came easily.

*For myself, I found the 6:6 ratio the most relaxing and it felt the most "natural" for me. The 4:6 ratio was really hard to maintain...it felt like I was breathing too fast.

*I used the ball screen (inflating/deflating) for most of my initial sessions, but eventually discovered the "galaxy" screen (with the musical cues) to be the most effective for me.

*I had the most success when I was alone. Trying to focus on my breathing while listening to a football game, tv show, or music simply did not work for me (shocker, I know). I'm one of those overly-excitable/easily distracted types...if I'm in a noisy room, surrounded by numerous noises, I cannot focus on any one thing (because I will hear EVERYTHING going on around me).

Over all, I am very happy with The Breathing App! I have used it at various times of the day, before/after exercise, sitting, lying down....and have had great success on all counts.

Are you interested? Do you have trouble controlling your breathing at times?  Ever feel stressed? Give The Breathing App a try--it's currently available for iOS devices (and it's FREE!), but Android will be coming soon. You can find it in the iTunes store!

***Disclaimer*** I received a few promotional items in exchange for the opportunity to test and review The Breathing App. All opinions are my own.

**I'm linking this with Nicole and Annmarie for the Wild Wednesday Workout
         

                                                                                                                                                                                                    
**And with Susie and Debbie and Rachel and Lora for the Running Coaches' Corner.

35 comments:

  1. This sounds great! One of the most helpful parts of my strength training program has been working on breathing. I am still learning how to breath better when I run and need to remember to work on it more throughout the rest of the day.

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    1. Breathing is a lot harder than we think when we're trying to control it.

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  2. Obviously breathing is something I am now struggling with (hello Chicago marathon!). I think sometimes my anxiety can make it difficult to breathe so taking some breaths would definitely be super helpful.

    At work when I get overwhelmed I try to take a few deep breaths to get my head back in the game and it works!

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    1. I'm gonna try to use some of these techniques on my next long run

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  3. I was also surprised by how simplistic the app is. Very easy to use but as you say, it takes a few times to allow yourself to get used to breathing that way. I am going to try to keep using it

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    1. I really struggled with the 4:6 ratio...once I tried the 6:6, though it was such a better fit for me

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  4. Sounds interesting! I'm horrible with apps on my phone...ha ha, I try not to add more to the fire ;) Glad it worked for you.

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    1. I do not have many (usable) apps either...I don't want all that clutter LOL

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  5. Some of my guided meditations do this -- and quite frankly, for me a guided mediation is more interesting.

    But slowing down & concentrating on breath is very useful.

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    1. This breathing really worked well for me. I've tried doing the rhythmic breathing in yoga and have a tough time staying focused...

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  6. What an interesting little tool to help you slow down and really focus on breathing. I'll have to check it out, thanks!

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  7. That sounds like a really great app! I meditate and find the breathing exercises to be incredibly helpful and use them frequently throughout the day.

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    1. This deep breathing is really a lot easier than I thought...and very effective!

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  8. How cool! Sounds like a great way to relax. I'm a fairly deep breather already so I guess that's a good thing. ;)

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    1. Lucky you! I think I'm a fast-breather, and don't really know why because I don't think I'm a high-strung person

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  9. Deeep breathing is supposed to be really good for us :) and learning to belly breathe is suppose to help our running so it looks like a useful training tool to me.

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    1. I'm looking forward to using these techniques throughout the day, especially at bed time #zzzzz

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  10. I love free apps! Sounds intriguing. I'll check it out.

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    1. It really is a neat app! I have a tough time clearing my mind (especially before bed time), so this has been a great thing to have.

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  11. I am loving the app and hope to keep up with it over time. I think it would be great to build up to three 10 minute sessions per day!

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    1. I agree....I plan to keep using the app as well. It's a great tool!

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  12. This sounds cool! I'll have to check it out.

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    1. It is really convenient, and super easy to use.

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  13. I need this for when my toddler tells me "No!" for the 500th time!

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    1. Or when my teenager rolls her eyes at me ;-)

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  14. I like the fact that just cause don't have a whole 30 minute block of quiet time doesn't mean I can't use it! Well and that it's a free app! Yessss!

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    1. It's amazing how fast a 10-minute block of time goes...but how relaxed you can become in that short amount of time.

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  15. I often teach clients the 4-7-7 breathing technique but didn't realize there was an app- so helpful! I need to be better about taking time to breathe myself too.

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    1. This app was just released recently....it's a great tool!

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  16. It surprised me when I started going to yoga classes that breathing exercises where one of my favorite parts of class. Alternate nostril breathing is my favorite for relaxing/calming down.

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    1. I've never tried the alternate nostril breathing...sounds challenging, but effective

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  17. Oooh yes, I read about this recently! I really want to give it a try!

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  18. It really takes practice to get that 4:6 ration down! Keep at it. It's really rewarding.

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