Anna Kennedy Online – Autism Awareness Charity

DEEP BREATH EVERYONE …

 

Hello everyone and a very happy and peaceful 2024 to you all.

I often find that the return to school after the Christmas holidays is perhaps the hardest transition of them all.

Routines and body clocks have been thrown up in the air and for many families who live with an autistic child, the festive season can be extremely challenging.

So how can we be proactive rather than reactive as we transition back to ordinary life – whatever that means for so many of us these days.

As I’ve written in previous articles for the charity website, you have 3 brains : your cognitive brain and inside that you have your emotional brain/ fear centre or amygdala which actually houses that flight, fight or freeze switch.

You also have a second brain in your gut which used to be our first brain as humans evolved. This is the seat of anxiety, trauma, meltdown, anger and all those bottled up feelings we squash down – including all the feelings we bottle up when we spend our days masking.

When stress levels are tested something called Heart Variability Testing is used. Whilst the gut is all about bottled up feelings and old emotions we’ve not been able to digest or process, the heart is about how we are feeling right now in this present moment.

A really wonderful way to be proactive in keeping our central nervous system running peacefully and calmly is to practise this yoga breathing exercise twice daily. I do this every morning and evening but also whenever I feel anxiety, fear or overwhelm beginning to build.

Lie or sit with one hand over your heart or middle of your chest and the other hand over your tummy, just below your rib cage.

Breathe in slowly through your nose and send the breath down to your tummy. Feel your chest and tummy expand.

Breathe out slowly through your mouth as if you were blowing into a whistle and feel your tummy release and soften. Your tummy should also go back in.

If your tummy goes in when you inhale and out when you exhale, this is called “reverse breathing” and indicates that this person has been under considerable stress or trauma for some time.

It’s really important you or them build up practice to breathe “correctly” so that the diaphragm opens to full capacity and the breath is naturally deeper, thus reducing anxiety.

This exercise is so simple and so inclusive of all abilities. Repeat this exercise for at least five minutes each time you do it.

You might feel your hands grow warm along an enormous sense of peace and calm fill you.

All the muscles and the nervous system become relaxed.

Stress leaves the body and the mind becomes so calm.

Heart rate slows and blood pressure drops or stabilises.

Most importantly, the oxytocin released fills the body with love, nurture and grounding, keeping us on a more even keel.

For some very visual or younger people they might imagine breathing in positive energy or a colour, and then picturing negative energy leaving them.

Younger children might like to lie down and place a favourite toy on their tummies to do this and imagine it’s on a rollercoaster.

It’s a simple but very effective way to keep us calm, clear, focused and on top of our emotions.

 

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AnnaDEEP BREATH EVERYONE… Giuliana Wheater