Updated: Sep 9, 2019
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, love, exercise, sleep & other pillars of health 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. It’s an automatic function, often oblivious that its 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, a natural healthcare practitioner & a little bit of my ‘hippyness. I see the value in a good exchange of carbon dioxide and fresh oxygen. Breathing is so important because as 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, consisting of cells, organs, systems and the very makeup of you.
3. Our breathing is also the link between our body and our mind and for both to function well, they need oxygen. 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.
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.
The next breathing exercise can be done laying down, a nice easy one done before bed. To help you to sleep deep;
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 and 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. Breath 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.
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.
1. Stand with your arms outstretched, exhale through your nose, empty your lungs completely and deeply.
2. Inhale slowly through our nose (belly rise first), slowly bring arms above head, come to the toes to the count of 10.
3. Join the palms, hold for a few seconds.
4. Exhale slowly through the nose (to count of 10) slowly lower arms and flat feet on floor. YOU can shorten the count of 10 to whatever feels comfortable in the beginning, but either way make sure it’s the same up and down and with a few seconds hold. Repeat this for at least 3 cycles.
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.