The importance of breathing
Breathing is a free strategy that makes a huge difference in how one feels and functions. Taking a breath calms and relaxes the body while relieving pain. Interestingly, breathing receives little attention in the U.S. We normally breathe in and out without conscious thought. And for that reason, most people assume there’s nothing else to mind with respect to this natural function. As a result, improper breathing has been the norm in our society for quite a while.
But breathing’s importance in our health is slowly beginning to be recognized. A 30-year study concluded that the most significant factor in a person’s health and longevity is how well they breathe. Your breath is your source of oxygen, which is key to the body’s ability to produce energy and reduce stress.
History of Breathing
The history of humans mastering breathing is extensive, going back thousands of years. Recorded as far back as 5000 years ago, in the spiritual tradition of India, yogis perfected breathing techniques to produce altered states of consciousness and longevity. 3000 years ago, Chinese Qigong masters were developing complex breathing disciplines in order to balance and invigorate themselves.
Some of these techniques can be elaborate and take years to master but others are easy to learn, apply, and even teach. Practicing them daily takes little time, and making this practice a routine gives you both time and energy because you will dramatically reduce stress and fatigue.
Benefits of Purposeful Breathing
• Respiratory system relieving symptoms of asthma and bronchitis
• Nervous system moving the autonomic nervous system towards balance, or dynamic homeostasis
• Circulatory system improving blood circulation and cell oxygenation in your body
• Digestive system decreasing acid build up and massaging internal organs
• Endocrine system helping to eliminate toxic waste and strengthen the immune system
• Urinary system helping to eliminate fluids while rejuvenating the kidneys
• Skin toxic waste is eliminated through breathing and the skin is positively affected by improved blood flow and oxygenation
How to use Breathing Every day
You may be locked into worry, hurry, overwork, compulsive behaviors - all causal factors in developing chronic stress. But developing a routine breathing practice invariably leads to a body and mind that is better able to adapt to and counteract the effects of stress. First, let’s take a look at the common anomalies regarding our breathing.
For an entire day, pay mindful attention to the following aspects of your breathing. How is the quality of your respiration? Is it deeper in range, or shallow? Does your posture or position encourage or restrict your ability to take deep breaths? If you are like most people, you will probably realize that you are utilizing one quarter or less of your lung capacity!
When the volume, rate and attention level to breathing is altered, dramatic physiological and emotional changes occur. The action of lungs, diaphragm and thorax are a primary pump for the lymph fluid, a lymphatic system research has shown.
There are so many different breathing practices you can try, but here I’m going to share with you one that is very effective as it is easy to perform. Full chest and abdominal breathing is simply a deepening of the breath. Take slow, deep, rhythmic breaths through the nose. When your diaphragm drops down, the abdomen expands allowing the air to enter the lungs. Then your chest expands, allowing the lungs to fill completely. Follow this by a slow, even exhalation which empties the lungs completely. This simple breath practice done slowly, fully, with intention, concentration and relaxation activates all of the primary benefits of therapeutic breath practice.