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Updated: Sep 24, 2023

Breath of Life, Breathe in, Breathe out

The Importance of breathing, more importantly breathing correctly!

The moment we enter the world we take a big breath-in, this exchange continues to the last day where we take our last breath-out. The cycle of life depends greatly on our breathing, without it, we simply do not sustain life for more than a few minutes. Whereas water, food, shelter, rest, love, exercise, sleep & other pillars of health, some we can last days, months or even years without, but not our valuable breathing! Yet most of us give it nowhere near the attention & gratitude it deserves.

What a beautiful system it is, your respiratory system.

The 3 major parts of respiration are the airway (which includes the nose, mouth, pharynx, larynx & trachea), the lungs (bronchi & bronchioles) and the muscles of respiration. Every cell in your body inhales the oxygen & exhales the carbon dioxide, essentially our whole body is 'breathing. It’s an automatic function, often oblivious that it's even happening. We breathe on average 20,000 times a day; can you believe it? When was the last time you actually noticed the breath coming in and the breath going out? Why do I see its value? I see many people breathing incorrectly, as a yoga teacher and a natural healthcare practitioner. I see the value in a good exchange of carbon dioxide and fresh new oxygen. Breathing is so important because our cells constantly need a new supply of oxygen so that they can produce energy – without this vital oxygen, cellular function is impaired, and damage or cell death is possible.

The 3 main reasons why it’s so important to breath correctly are;

1. It supplies our body & its various organs with oxygen, which is VITAL for our SURVIVAL. Oxygen allows the brain to function properly, keeps inflammation down & a balanced pH level of the body. Plus, oxygen fights cancer, virus & bacterial cells.

2. We get rid of waste products and toxins from the body. The lungs are one of our natural detox systems, through respiration and elimination. Taking waste away and bringing good fresh blood and oxygen to the entire body.

3. Our breathing is also the link between MindBody connection and for both to function well, they need oxygen and a good breathing rhythm. If our breathing is short and quick, our mind will be agitated and nervous. If our breathing is irregular, our mind will be anxious and disturbed. Knowing how to breath can also control our emotions. If our breathing is deep, slow and regular then our mind will reach a state of tranquility and calm. Science has proven 'breathing techniques help to regulate the nervous system, by turning off the stress response and calming the entire body.

Let’s start with a simple breathing technique that can be done at any time of the day, in three simple movements, at least for a couple of minutes;

Fully Belly Breathing

1) Deep inhalation (rising from the belly)

2) Hold your breath for a few seconds

3) Then release to an exhale, lengthening the exhale (belly drops last).

I suggest to repeat this exercise several times throughout the day, especially at times when we are feeling particularly agitated, or sad, or even when we feel tired.

Next Breathing exercise is best done on rising! Really great for early morning, as we need to get fresh new oxygen into the body for the start for the day;

Nadi Shodhana AKA Alternative Nostril Breathing.

1. Begin to breathe evenly and gently focus on the movement of your stomach. Actually placing 1 hand on your stomach is a good idea. Allow your belly to rise and expand as you inhale deeply and fall and soften as you exhale deeply. Do a few cycles.

2. Then place your other hand, specifically your pointer and middle finger on your forehead and block 1 nostril with your thumb and breath in, block the other nostril with your ring finger as you exhale. Breathe in same nostril and then block with your thumb and exhale, breath in. Then block alternate nostril and continue in this pattern for a few minutes.

The next breathing exercise can be done laying down, a nice easy one done before bed. To help you to sleep deep;

Box Breathing.

1. Inhale, counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.

2. Hold your breath (in) counting to four slowly. Avoid inhaling/exhaling

3. Exhale through your nose counting to four slowly.

4. Hold your breath (out) counting to four slowly. Avoid inhaling/exhaling.

Repeat steps at least 4 rounds until you feel relaxed. Think and visualise a box or square, inhaling up, holding across, exhaling down, holding across, this helps the breathing technique by adding the visual.

Doing some Breathing exercises in the morning and in the evening can help us to become healthier and stronger. There are many breathing/pranayama exercises out there, so please find ones that suit your lifestyle, these are just 3 of my favorites. Simple techniques that are easy to do and cost you nothing. Not only scientifically proven but you will see for yourself, that correct breathing has been linked to resetting the ‘Vagus nerve and therefore able to reset your whole nervous system. Helping you to sleep, helping you to waken, helping you to calm the body & the mind. Give it a go, I would love to hear how you go? or your favourite techniques.

The Lungs, the Breath!!!
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