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Deep Breathing


Like the invisible breeze that sends a sailboat on its journey, breathing supports life in you, filling your sails with vitality. You can survive without food or water for a limited time, but you cannot live without oxygen for more than a few minutes. With each breath, cells are replenished with oxygen and the energy to perform all kinds of essential functions..

Like the invisible breeze that sends a sailboat on its journey, breathing supports life in you, filling your sails with vitality. You can survive without food or water for a limited time, but you cannot live without oxygen for more than a few minutes. With each breath, cells are replenished with oxygen and the energy to perform all kinds of essential functions. Cells that do not receive oxygen eventually become cancerous. Breathing is one of the main ways the body detoxifies. The lung itself is a detoxification organ, drawing in oxygen while eliminating carbon dioxide and other toxins. Breathing also reflects your psychological and emotional well-being which changes rhythm according to your state of mind. When you are relaxed, you breathe more calmly and deeply than when you experience pain, anger or fear. By learning to control your breathing, you can influence your emotional and physical health.

Breathing is a key to increased energy and prolonged youth. Although the lungs cannot be used constantly to full capacity, regular use ensures strong, healthy lungs and adequate oxygen supply all the time. Most people rarely use their full lung capacity. Only at birth do people breathe properly. Even children begin to breathe shallowly, especially during stressful situations. This lack of oxygen negatively affects mood, concentration and energy, as well as every organ in the body, especially the brain. In the long term, respiratory health and, subsequently, overall health suffer. Lack of exercise is a common cause of poor lung capacity. Stress and anxiety, obesity, cramped or lazy posture and restrictive clothing also create shallow breathing.

Simply paying attention to breathing, and practising breathing techniques improve lung capacity and overall well-being. Proper breathing restores concentration and inner calmness when you feel stressed, angry or anxious. Deep breathing will rejuvenate the mind and body when you feel tired, and help prevent illness. If you suffer from ill respiratory health, asthma, emphysema or chronic bronchitis, breathing exercises can improve your ability to breathe and prevent infections from recurring as frequently. Breathing techniques are a powerful tool to calm your nervous system, slow your heartbeat, relieve insomnia, and lessen or even kill pain. As many women know, breathing techniques are remarkably useful during labor to help control pain and anxiety.

Guidelines for Proper Breathing

The first step to breathing properly is learning to exhale fully. Empty the lungs completely. A common mistake is trying to breathe in when the lungs are not fully emptied of stale air. Once you breathe out fully, breathing in occurs naturally. Exhale through the mouth through rounded, tightened lips. Your stomach should flatten as you breathe out.

When inhaling, breathe in through the nose, which filters dust particles and bacteria from the air and adds warmth. Proper breathing includes learning to breathe in with the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the muscle and connective tissue that divides the chest from the abdomen. Diaphragm breathing helps to get more air in and out of the lungs because the moving diaphragm makes room for the expanding lungs during inhaling and forces out as much air as possible during exhaling. When breathing in, you should notice your stomach move up with each breath. Focus on this technique and keep practising. Breathing in this way ensures full use of the lungs, calms the nerves and it also assists the digestive process by stimulating the liver and digestive organs.

When practising breathing techniques, you should be comfortable. Choose a quiet place away from disturbances like the telephone or the doorbell. Concentrate on breathing slowly, calmly and rhythmically. By doing these exercises you are taking time out to relax and focus on your body. This in itself is therapeutic and a healthy habit to incorporate into your daily schedule. With daily practice, your breathing technique will improve and become more natural. Ultimately, you will achieve a lower pulse rate and the ability to calm your nervous system through proper breathing.

Deep Breathing Techniques

Lie on your back. Place a pillow under your knees and rest your hands on your upper stomach. (If you prefer, you may choose to sit instead of lying. In this case, either sit comfortably on a chair with your feet flat on the ground in front of you, or assume a cross-legged or kneeling position on a mat on the floor.) Close your eyes. Now pay attention to your breathing. Is it fast or slow, anxious and shallow, or relaxed and full? This awareness is important. First, concentrate on how you breathe. When you inhale, breathe slowly and deeply through your nose, trying to breathe in through the stomach so that your hands rise and fall with each breath. As you breathe in, count slowly to six, then hold your breath for two to three seconds before exhaling through your mouth for six seconds. Repeat between fifteen to twenty times. A feeling of heaviness or warmth is a sign of deeper relaxation.

Walking outdoors is an ideal environment for breathing fully because of the stimulating combination of fresh air and exercise. Inhale slowly for seven steps, then exhale slowly, again taking seven steps.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Consciously tighten and relax each muscle, starting at the toes, and working up through the body. Inhale slowly as you tighten a specific muscle. Focus your attention on how your muscles feel as you tighten and relax each one.

These techniques will help you to become more aware of your breathing. Whenever possible, practice these exercises in fresh air. In an emotional or stressful situation, simply remembering to breathe can bring the situation under control. On a daily basis, try to be more aware of how you breathe and what causes your breathing to change. Noticing your strained breathing can alert you to breathe more deeply and calmly.

To strengthen the respiratory system, recognize that proper breathing and adequate exercise are paramount. The lungs need to be used and challenged daily to function optimally, just like other parts of the body. As long as you pursue daily physical activity in fresh air, the natural act of breathing ventilates and restores circulation to every lung pocket. Today, few people do hard physical labor. People with a sedentary lifestyle should exercise and practice breathing properly to maintain a healthy respiratory system, help combat stressful situations and increase vitality.

Respiratory health is dependent on air quality. You can make a large contribution towards improving air quality in your immediate environment. Ventilate your living quarters regularly with fresh air, especially the bedroom. In the winter it is also important, despite the cold, to replenish the air supply regularly by opening windows for short periods. Plants will also improve your indoor air quality because they naturally release oxygen. If you find the air dry, place water containers throughout the rooms or purchase a humidifier. This is often necessary during winter months when central heating removes moisture from the air. Smoking and choosing to remain in smoke-filled areas weaken the respiratory system. Fresh air is essential because every cell in the body requires oxygen.

Unfortunately, many people live in cities where chemicals and smog poison the air. They work and shop in air-conditioned rooms, and close the windows to shut out noise. People are often deprived of sufficient oxygen. The mind becomes tired and unfocused when the brain is deprived in this way. A walk in the park or garden can offer some quick relief. Take your bike instead of the car. Nothing beats the fresh air of a forest its oxygen-rich air is healing to the respiratory organs.



Your winter wellness game plan

Your winter wellness game plan

Stay healthful when the weather outside is frightful

Joshua Duvauchelle

Joshua Duvauchelle