Life gets busy, and that fact applies to absolutely everyone. This is a reality in today’s world. The trouble is that sometimes, we move so quickly through life that we forget to take the time to pause and enjoy some deep, calming breaths… which is actually terrible, because they are so important! When we restrict our breath (or forget to breathe entirely), we tend to hold onto feelings of tightness, fear or being stuck. Lack of oxygen also results in poorer brain and muscle function. This is a less than ideal situation, and in time can lead to serious chronic illness.
Bad breathing habits such as over-breathing, chest breathing and holding your breath can also all lead to a shortage of oxygen and energy, and are actually very stressful to the body[i].
However, there is a way to fix this! And it is actually simpler than you probably imagine it is… yet so obvious! Just breathe. Just exist. For just a moment or two, right now, take your hand off of your computer mouse and close your eyes. Slow your breath. Breathe deep. Find that sense of calm. Repeat.
Isn’t it just amazing how much better that makes all of us feel? Something so simple, and yet it is one of the most healing things we can do for our bodies.
Breathing deep has more benefits than just feeling better though – it also increases your energy, improves blood flow, reduces inflammation, improves your posture, stimulates your lymphatic system, detoxifies your body, improves your digestion, and is a natural painkiller.
Watch your form
It is just as important to breathe correctly as it is to breathe at all. Correct breathing means you breathe in a way that is physiologically optimal for your body, and yet many people are not even coming close to being able to achieve the benefits simply because they are not sure how to do it properly.
The solution to this problem is to learn! The trick is to become more aware of the way you breathe currently, and then consciously work on altering it to maximize your breathing effectiveness.
Breathe deep and try following these steps:
1)Breathe through your nose
- In through the nose, out through the nose. It turns out that when you breathe through your mouth, the lungs get a lot more “unfiltered” air that is raw, cold, dry and full of viruses and bacteria (NOT ideal!)
2) Breathe with your diaphragm
- Breathe in all the way down in your belly (you want about 70 to 80% of your inhaling to be done by the diaphragm). Breathing this way…
- Helps your lungs with the gas exchange because it is simply much more efficient in the lower parts of the lungs
- Your lymphatic system, which is important for your immune system, gets the help it needs to get rid of the waste products from the bowels
- Your chest becomes more relaxed, and so does your neck and shoulders. As a result, the likelihood of pain in these areas goes down
- Your diaphragm “massages” your liver, stomach, and intestines, giving these organs a rhythmical balance.
- The pressure in your chest and belly is decreased so that your heart won’t have to work as hard
3) Breathe rhythmically
- Everything on earth has a natural rhythm, including humans. The hormones in your body follow this natural rhythm (one example of this is melatonin that is released when you’re going to sleep)
- Optimal breathing is no different – when you fall into step with your natural rhythm, things roll a lot smoother
4) Breathe relaxed
- We do everything better when we are relaxed. Since your breathing reflects your thoughts and feelings, situations that make you feel tense also lead to tense and stressed breathing patterns. This leads to a lack of oxygen which, in turn, makes your body and brain even more stressed
- When you take control of your breathing and consciously work on making it more relaxed, your body becomes more relaxed as well, which leads to better functioning in general (when your body is relaxed, your health is good, and your energy is high. When this happens, it becomes easier to be happy and loving toward yourself and others)
5) Breathe silently
- Our breathing patterns tend to contain a lot of suboptimal breaths in disguise (coughs, snores, sniffles, etc.), and this puts a considerable strain on the body. This may cause your breath to lose its rhythm
Even just implementing these five steps into your life can make a world of difference for your health, your outlook, your sleep, your breathing… basically your whole life! There are only a few weeks left in August – why not take those weeks and try to improve your own breathing before the month wraps up?
[i] Times of India