Breathing is something most people don’t even think about. After all our body takes care of it for us. It’s not like we have to think about it right. Well here is another perspective. The Quality of breath can affect our Quality of life. Breath is life. Many people are very low in vitality, feeling exhausted all the time and often suffering from anxiety. As I work with people to restore their wellbeing we address many things such as cleansing the body, releasing the past, developing mindfulness and establishing a healthy diet and lifestyle but let us look here at the fundamental of life our breath.
Anxiety & Breath
When stressed our muscles are tight and our emotions are running riot, we may feel anxious and constantly worried, so that our body cannot breath properly.
Anxiety affects breathing and Poor Breathing increases anxiety. And this can become a cycle. When anxious our breathing becomes shallow, rapid and erratic at times we may feel as if we can’t breath at all. Sometimes it may even feel like we are having a heart attack. This can be really scary
How does the Quality of our Breath affect the Quality of our Health?
Yoga teaches that breath is closely linked to prana or subtle energy. Science now recognises the existence of prana or energy. Our lungs are wonderfully formed within our chest to take the oxygen into the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) and also to release carbon dioxide, a bodily waste from the blood via the lungs. Poor breathing starves our cells of oxygen and increases toxic waste. Poor breathing may be exacerbated by stress, poor posture, slumping over desks, an artificial environment or smoggy city.
So lets look at breathing mindfully.
The Quality of Air we Breath ?
The quality of the air we breath is important. Where there is massive pollution we will also be inhaling toxic waste that can pass into our bloodstream. There will be less oxygen available. Keeping your house windows open for good air flow is important as is your choice of environment.
Sea air is very beneficial as is the highly oxygenated air of the forest.
The Quantity of Air we Breath ?
The lungs are like balloons and as such very flexible within the chest easily expanding and contracting as they fill and empty with air. Yet most people don’t use their full lung capacity thus their cells are deprived of living giving oxygen. Yoga Breathing offers an increased capacity of breath and thus vitality.
Mouth or Nose Breathing ?
Continual mouth breathing can be very detrimental to our health. Our nose is a wonderful breathing apparatus. Lining the nasal cavity is a mucous membrane rich with tiny blood vessels. These capillaries enable the nose to warm and humidify incoming air quickly. Cells in the mucous membrane produce mucus and have tiny hairlike projections (cilia). Usually, the mucus traps incoming dirt particles, which are then moved by the cilia toward the front of the nose or down the throat to be removed from the airway. This action helps clean, warm and humidify the air to maintain lung health. Sadly many people who have blocked nostrils or chronic sinus often breath through the mouth. I have noticed mouth breathers experience more colds, sinus and infections. It is important to breath out through the nose as well to keep the nasal passages warm.
Is Nose Breathing helping my Mental Clarity ?
Breathing through the nose stimulates the frontal cortex of the brain. It helps keep the sinuses healthy too. Increased airflow through the right nostril is correlated to increased left brain activity and increased airflow through the left nostril is associated with increased right brain activity and enhanced creative and spatial performance. When the breath is balanced in both clear nostrils we feel balanced.
Should I hold my Tummy in ?
NO ! The days of corsets are over. Love your body better. Many women during the tight laced corset fashion would faint easily and thus women were thought of a ‘the weaker sex’.
In YOGIC BREATHING it is important to fill the lower lungs first as they are the largest air holding space. As we do this the flexible muscle structure of the diaphragm drops down to accommodate the expanding lungs our abdomen rises or moves outward.
How can Breathing Help my Digestion ?
As the lower lungs fill on inhalation the abdomen displaced offering a massage to the liver, stomach and intestines as they are gently pushed downward thus encouraging better peristaltic movement and blood circulation. When relaxed our digestion improves and deep breathing encourages relaxation.
How do I breath Correctly?
Lie down on the mat or bed and place your hands over the abdomen. Remember your lungs have their largest capacity at the base, so breath in beginning for fill the lungs from the bottom to the top.
Feel the abdomen rise under your hands first, then the rib cage expands as the chest fills and finally the collar bones lift as the lungs fill completely.
The 3 stages of YOGIC BREATHING
While inhaling feel;
- Abdomen expands.
- Chest and rib area open and expand.
- Upper chest or collar bone area lift a little.
Exhaling feel as if you are letting go of all worries and relaxing back into yourself and feel;
- Your body relax back into shape.
- Tummy falls and ribs area relaxes around emptying lungs
So avoid stressful situations when you can, loosen your belly and breath deep for greater vitality.
Tip: Practice while lying in bed at night and let your body take over deep breathing as you sleep.