Breathing is just something that our bodies do without even thinking about it…right?
Wrong! We take breathing for granted. We rarely give it a thought unless we get winded going up a flight of stairs or light headed from holding our breath accidentally during a scary movie. Breathing keeps us alive by bringing oxygen into our blood.
- High Blood Pressure
- Lack of Energy
- Sleep Issues
Most people reach the peak of their breathing capacity in their 20’s. Then between 10% and 27% of respiratory ability is lost every 10 years. If you aren’t doing something to create optimal breathing capacity, it will decline along with your general health. The good news is that it is possible for anyone to achieve better breathing. There is a way to consciously control breathing. Once someone begins to breathe properly they can reverse or improve many health conditions.
Breathing can be used to achieve a relaxed state of mind and reducing stress and anxiety levels. We can deliberately use our breathing to influence the sympathetic nervous system which controls many body functions including: blood pressure, heart rate, circulation and digestion. Proper breathing has measurable medical benefits. Practitioners of Yoga have known how important guided breathing is for centuries. In Yoga, the Prana (breath) is a universal energy that can be used to find a balance between the body and mind. Western cultures are now beginning to adopt proper breathing techniques.
Yoga is where I recently learned to breathe. I was like most people who hold in their stomachs when they inhale or push them out when they exhale. They do not use their diaphragm. They breathe using their upper chest, neck and shoulders. The best, most natural way to breathe is by using our abdomens instead of the upper chest. Animals and babies breathe with their bellies, which rise and fall with each breath. Somehow as adults we forget how to do this.
- Place one hand on your abdomen right beneath your rib cage and one on your chest.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your abdomen, then your rib cage and your upper chest. Watch the hand on your abdomen rise each time you inhale. The hand on your chest should barely move.
- When you’ve inhaled fully, pause for a moment. Exhale slowly through your nose. Emptying your upper chest, through the ribcage and then slowly bring the abdomen in and the belly button to the spine. Release as much old air as possible. It should take you twice as long to exhale as it did to inhale.
- To relax fully, take and release 10 abdominal breaths. Keep your breathing smooth and even throughout. Let it ebb and flow to your own perfect rhythm.
There are many breathing exercises and techniques out there, not just in yoga. I suggest researching them and finding one or two that work for you in stressful situations or for relaxation. As with all things, practice makes perfect. As you continue to practice you will find yourself breathing properly without any thought. Or maybe in a stressful situation, but not feeling the pressure because you are automatically using a breathing technique.
I am dedicated to supporting you in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle, please Contact Me if you would like to learn more about breathing exercises or other ways I can help you in your journey.
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