Breathing. It’s a constant in our lives. We do it all day long. All night long too for that matter. Good thing it’s a majorly subconscious activity or we may just forget to do it, since we pay so little attention to it anyway — well, except to live and all. So what’s to talk about? That was my first thought. Yet surprisingly, I was fascinated to find out all the wonderful health benefits of just re-learning how to breathe better.
You think you know how to breathe. In, out. In, out. You got this. But do you really? You’ve been doing it since you were born – non-stop in fact – but have you been doing it correctly? Meaning, for the best benefit to your body?
I’m not talking about the kind of breathing we all do everyday all day long. You know, that good ol’ lazy, shallow breathing we do unconsciously. The inhale / exhale habit we all have that barely engages our diaphragm. Studies have found that this is NOT the way to get the best bang for our breath.
Deep breathing – That’s where it’s at! Ask any yoga instructor. Breathing deep is key to so many body and mind benefits. When done correctly and practiced regularly, there are many, many deep breathing benefits to be had!
Here are just a few:
1) Calms. Ask anyone who has been under stress. When they let out a big sigh, for example, they stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, or the relaxation response, which brings about the needed relaxation their body and mind needs in that moment.
2) Detoxify. We excrete about 70 percent of the toxins from our body via breathing. (Carbon dioxide being a primary one.) Shallow breaths, however, cause our internal detoxifying systems to work harder to get this job done.
3) Pain Relief. When we stub our toe our initial reaction is to hold our breath (and hop around, usually). Stop that! Breathe through the pain. Deeply breathing during pain has been proven to ease the painful sensation – ask any woman who has given birth! Lamaze is about breathing through the pain.
4) Lower blood pressure. When deep breathing is practiced regularly, heart rates slow and blood pressures drop, which in turn results in less wear and tear on blood vessels.
5) Brain power. Alpha waves increase during deep breathing. These calming mid-range waves bring about a calm yet alert frame of mind.
Here’s the best part: it’s not a huge commitment to begin deep breathing. In fact, you don’t even need to etch out special time to practice deep breathing, since you breathe all day long anyway. It is as simple as just remembering to do it whenever you think about it. (The trick is to think about it – but that is what reminder Post-It notes are for) The great thing is that once you have practiced this enough times, you will begin to do it without complete conscious effort!
So relax. Breathe. Deeply Breathe. You do got this.
Until next time remember to take care of you.
I am sharing with you this step-by-step How To I found in a post from the Men’s Journal, June 2009:
Relearn How To Breathe
Do this exercise five times a day and you’ll start thinking and performing better in no time:
1. Inhale deeply
2. Exhale with a short burst (as if blowing out a candle). This helps activate your diaphragm, which most people don’t use.
3. Exhale with a long, slow finish to empty the lungs. Breathlessness comes from not expelling enough CO2.
4. Inhale, filling your lungs from the bottom to the top, instead of taking short sips. Most use a third of their lung capacity.
5. Hold for a moment to allow oxygen to saturate the cells.
6. Exhale slowly and completely.
7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for five minutes.