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Now, take a deep breath; RELAXATION TECHNIQUES CAN BURN FAT.

Byline: Nan Spowart

EVERY woman who has had a baby knows that breathing well can stave off panic and ease pain. Yet how many know breathing properly may help burn fat and keep wrinkles at bay?

It has been known for years that deep breathing can help alleviate anxiety, panic and asthma attacks, but new research shows the benefits of breathing well could actually go much further.

The latest craze in the states is Oxycise - a fitness programme which claims you can lose weight without going to a gym.

All you need to do to shed pounds in weeks is a few simple exercises for 15 minutes a day while using a breathing technique focusing on the diaphragm.

In a study at the University of Southern California it was found that Oxycise burned 140 per cent more calories than riding a stationary bicycle.

It sounds too good to be true but there is evidence that breathing correctly can burn fat, make your skin glow and correct hormone imbalances as well as improve a host of other health problems.

"The simplest and most powerful technique for protecting your health is breathing," says Andrew Weil, clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Arizona.

"I have seen breath control alone achieve remarkable results: lowering blood pressure, ending heart arrhythmias, improving long-standing patterns of poor digestion, increasing blood circulation throughout the body, decreasing anxiety and allowing people to get off anti-anxiety drugs and improving sleep and energy cycles."

However the problem is that many of us have adopted bad breathing habits and shallow breathe with our chests instead of with our diaphragms.

If you want to find out if you are a chest or belly breather take a deep breath then let it out. What expanded most as you exhaled? If it was your chest you are doing it all wrong - if it was your belly, then well done.

Breathing badly restricts oxygen intake which, it is claimed, can lead to weight gain, raised blood pressure, sleep problems, posture problems, digestive problems, lack of energy, depression and anxiety.

Personal trainer Robert Miller, who is based in Glasgow, has long understood the necessity of breathing well and teaches techniques to his clients.

He first teaches them to become aware of their breathing.

He said: "Lie face down and put your hands under your forehead in a relaxed manner. Close your eyes and start to feel your breathing, rib movement, stomach movement, shoulder movement. Next feel the breath as you breathe in and out, air moving in nose, throat and lungs.

"Once you are more in tune with your breathing, start to visualise air coming in through your nose, all the way down in to your stomach (imagine a stream of white light if it makes it easier), feel your stomach pushing in to the mat as you breath in, keep breathing in and out steadily, gradually feeling the breathing become deeper and slower.

"As you do this, feel the pressure of your stomach pushing in to the mat as you breathe in. As you breathe out, tell your body to relax, start with your shoulders.

"When doing this exercise you may feel your body pulse slightly around the rib cage, this is trapped energy releasing and is normal when increasing oxygen intake through proper breathing.

"This exercise can be done anywhere and should be moved to standing or sitting once a proper breathing pattern has been established.

"It will take practice to reset the body back in to a deep breathing pattern. I recommend that you practice twice daily for a minimum of five uninterrupted minutes, but this can be done anywhere and as much as possible."

At the moment, Robert has a "drop a dress size in a month or your money back" offer for Daily Record readers through his business Milngavie and Bearsden Personal Training. To find out more contact Robert on 07787 241 240 or go to www.beyourselfonlybetter.com.

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STUDIES: Dr Andrew Weil
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 21, 2011
Words:666
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