Yarn Therapy: Maximize your Breathing (Yoga for Crafters)
Belly breathing. Most adults do not realize that they spend the majority of their lives breathing incorrectly and this is the cause of many major health problems related to stress. It amazes people to find out that a simple thing such as breathing can truly affect their health in positive ways. But what is belly breathing and why is it important to practice during knitting?
If you have ever watched an infant or toddler breathe you will notice that their stomach rises and falls with each breath. Somewhere along the line of growing up we lose the natural reflex of deep breathing and begin to practice what is called shallow breathing- where the breath stays high in our chest. This type of breathing actually encourages stress in our bodies. Some of the benefits to learning how to belly breathe include: increased oxygen levels in the lungs which, in turn, increases the oxygen in the blood stream, improved energy levels, elimination of toxins and a strengthened immune system, reduction of stress and anxiety and increased metabolism (which can also play a direct role in weight loss). So why belly breathe when you are knitting? First, because knitting is such an effective form of stress relief and relaxation. Combining knitting with an awareness of your breathing further enhances the stress relieving benefits of knitting. Second, because knitting forces you to be still long enough to be able to pay attention to your breathing. You might as well use your still time to bring some additional health benefits into your life. Goodness knows, most of us do not have enough of these still and quiet moments in our days.
In order to retrain yourself to breathe correctly, here are a few simple steps to follow next time you pick up those needles or crochet hook.
1. Place your hand on top of your stomach area. As you breathe, concentrate on making your hand rise and fall with each breath. Concentrate on filling your lungs up and then fully exhaling and emptying them.
2. Now that you have seen and felt correct breathing, pick up your needles and pay attention to your breaths while you are working, taking slow breaths in and out. If you are working on an uncomplicated pattern you can even inhale for a count of 8 and exhale for 8 counts. You can also add a 2-3 second hold between your inhale and exhale. You might feel a little light headed at first as your body gets adjusted to having enough oxygen.
3. Continue to pay attention to your breathing through your knitting session and feel yourself relaxed and with a little more energy than when you started. You may also find that practicing belly breathing for 5- 10 minutes before you start a complicated pattern may increase your attention and patience.
Happy breathing and happy knitting!