For Better Health Just Breathe
How breathing properly can make you feel better
These days we are all in search of better health for ourselves and our families. To achieve this we tend to look towards improving our diets and exercise levels and other lifestyle changes, such as more relaxation time. Whilst these factors are extremely important and relevant one of the simplest and most fundamental ways of improving both our mental and physical health is often overlooked! What is it?
It is the simple act of breathing - that is, breathing properly!
For thousands of years spiritual seekers, mystics and yogis have realized the spiritual, physical and mental benefits of the breath. Yet in modern day society many of us do not breath properly- that is we 'shallow breathe' (rather than breathing deeply into the belly we take smaller breaths, which reach the top of the chest only).
Taking proper deep breaths supplies us with all of the oxygen that our body needs to work at it's optimum rate. The out-breath helps the body rid itself of gaseous toxic waste ie carbon dioxide, which is a by-product of digestion. Research has shown that shallow breathing, instead of breathing properly, can contribute to 50-70% of medical complaints.
The physical benefits of proper breathing:
- It provides sufficient oxygen for the efficient functioning of every body cell, enabling the body to function at its optimum level.
- The oxygen also enables the body to metabolize food properly and thus absorb nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals.
- It allows the body to rid itself of toxins - particularly carbon dioxide.
- It can increase energy levels, as oxygen fuels the body.
Shallow breathing can also affect our moods! The brain uses more energy and so requires more oxygen than any other organ of the body. A lack of oxygen can cause a loss of mental control, with symptoms such as concentration problems and mood swings.
The mental benefits of proper breathing:
- Improved concentration and greater clarity of thought
- Increased ability to deal with complex situations without stress
- Better emotional control and equilibrium
- A more positive outlook on life
Try the following exercise for just 10-15 minutes each day and you will be amazed at both the mental stillness and physical energy you will feel!
The Three-Part Breath
You can do this at anytime and anywhere - just make sure you are comfortable, whether you are sitting or standing.
- Take a deep breath into the abdomen through the nose, continue the inhalation until the abdomen expands out like a balloon
- Continue to inhale so that your breath now also fills the ribcage with air
- Continue to inhale further to expand the chest all the way up to the upper chest
- Hold the breath for 5 seconds
- Next reverse the process by exhaling out first from the chest, then the ribcage, then the abdomen. Pull in the abdominal muscles at the end of the breath to totally rid the body of breath
- Then reverse the process by breathing in again. Imagine that you torso is a glass and that the glass fills up from the bottom to the top and then empties from the top down to the bottom.
Further reading : "Free your breath, free your life" by Dennis Lewis