Unless you are my client, or my close friend, you probably don’t know how to breathe. I am so passionate about the topic of breathing that I would say it is the most important element of your lifestyle, after you have cut out sugar of course. The practice of conscious breathing came to me over a year ago when I attended a 12-day breathing course with Guruji Sanjeev Krishnan in Dubai. A powerful experience that has changed my life, enabled me to slow down and move with the natural rhythm of life – all because I slowed down my breath. The discovery of my own breath was so empowering that I went further to study the unconscious function the body performs for us.
Why Breathe? As we inhale, we supply our body and its various organs with oxygen which is vital for our survival and get rid of waste products and toxins from the body as we exhale.
So why is Oxygen so important?
Important nutrient: Oxygen is the most vital nutrient for our body. It is essential for the integrity of the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs.
Brain function: The brain requires more oxygen than any other organ. If it doesn't get enough, the result is mental sluggishness, negative thoughts and depression and, eventually, vision and hearing decline.
Body health: Poor oxygen supply affects all parts of the body. For a long time, lack of oxygen has been considered a major cause of cancer. Even as far back as 1947, work done in Germany showed that when oxygen was withdrawn, normal body cells could turn into cancer cells.
Similar research has been done with heart disease. It showed that lack of oxygen is a major cause of heart disease, stroke and cancer. The work done at Baylor University in the USA has shown that you can reverse arterial disease in monkeys by infusing oxygen into the diseased arteries.
Blood Purifier: Major secrets of vitality and rejuvenation is a purified blood stream. Most effective way to purify the blood stream is by taking in extra supplies of oxygen. By purifying the blood stream, every part of the body benefits, as well as the mind.
Longevity: The chemical basis of energy production in the body is a chemical called Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). If something goes wrong with the production of ATP, the result is lowered vitality, disease and premature ageing. Oxygen is critical for the production of ATP; in fact, it is its most vital component. It is through deep breathing that we increase the supplies of Oxygen, thus increase the production of ATP.
Notice your breath now. Is it shallow? Is it fast?
We are not taking in sufficient oxygen and we are not eliminating sufficient carbon dioxide. As a result, our bodies are oxygen starved, and a toxic build-up occurs. Every cell in the body requires oxygen and our level of vitality is just a product of the health of all the cells.
Shallow breathing can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, anxiety, stomach upsets, heart bum, gas, muscle cramps, dizziness, visual problems, chest pain and heart palpitations. Scientists have also found that a lot of people who believe they have heart disease are really suffering from improper breathing.
Many of us also breathe with our mouth open. Do an experiment yourself and observe people, and count how many have their mouth open at all times. Breathing through the mouth affects the development of the thyroid gland and affects mental development in children. It also invites all sorts of bacteria into your system. However, if you breathe through your nose, the nose has various defense mechanisms to prevent impurities and excessively cold air entering the body.
Now that we understood that we need to breathe deep and slow, and only through our nose. what positive result should we expect from this newly learnt habit?
10 Benefits of Deep Breathing:
1. Blood Quality: Improvement in the quality of the blood due to its increased oxygenation in the lungs. This aids in the elimination of toxins from the system.
2. Enhanced Digestion: The digestive organs such as the stomach receive more oxygen, and hence operate more efficiently. The digestion is further enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated more.
3. Healthy Nervous system: Improvement in the health of the brain, spinal cord, nerve centers and nerves, due again to the increased oxygenation, nourishes the nervous system and improves the health of the whole body, since the nervous
system communicates to all parts of the body.
4. Healthy Skin: The skin becomes smoother and a reduction of facial wrinkles occurs.
5. Improved Blood circulation: The movements of the diaphragm during the deep breathing exercise massage the abdominal organs - the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart. This stimulates the blood circulation in these organs.
6. Healthy Lungs: The lungs become healthy and powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems.
7. Healthy Heart: Deep, slow, yoga breathing reduces the work load for the heart, making it stronger and last longer. It also means reduced blood pressure and less heart disease. How?:
i) Deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn't have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues.
ii) Deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the lungs, which leads to an increase in the circulation, thus resting the heart a little.
8. Controlled Weight: If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands. In other words, yoga tends to produce the ideal weight for you.
9. Reduced Anxiety: Slow, deep, rhythmic breathing causes a reflex stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which results in a reduction of the heart rate and relaxation of the muscles and normalizes brain function, reducing excessive anxiety levels.
10. Increased lung capacity: Increase in the elasticity of the lungs and rib cage creates an increased breathing capacity all day, not just during the actual breathing exercises. This means all the above benefits also occur all day.
Learning how to breathe is simple for some, yet quite challenging for others. Using your stomach, inhale through your nose, inflate your stomach, exhale through your nose deflate your stomach. Watch the video below to learn the art of deep breathing!
If there is anything you can do good for your body right now is to become aware of your breath. Slow down. The slower you breathe, the longer you live. Practice deep belly breathing whilst driving, watching TV, in a work meeting and feel yourself getting more calm, balanced and reconnected.
Our body is a state of art, so perfect in all its functions.
All we need to do is be aware of it and appreciate it.