Are you breathing properly?
We start life in this world by drawing our first breath and exhaling it (usually) with a cry!
Breathing is considered the most important of all the functions of the body because all the other functions depend upon it. A person can exist several days without food, fewer days without drinking but only minutes without breathing.
Because respiration is an automatic function and takes care of itself, it is considered unnecessary to do anything about it; let alone be conscious about the way you breathe. The result is that today most people only breathe enough to keep them alive. Their breathing is so shallow that they are using only about a quarter of their lung capacity. The breath that consists mainly of oxygen, permeates every cell in the body and is the force for the renewal and revitalizing of every cell. Therefore, by breathing more fully and deeply not only do you improve your health but also the quality of your life.
Although inhalation and exhalation are done spontaneously, it can be controlled consciously. Conscious, deep breathing should not be too difficult to do for one do it without being aware of it – it takes place while you sleep! By practicing deep breathing consciously, we will become aware of our breathing and hopefully, better it. When you inhale, let your ribs expand sideways – starting from the bottom up.
The diaphragm will move down and the belly will rise slightly so as to increase the lung capacity. The entire inhalation should be done gently and effortlessly. With the exhalation you use a slight pressure to push the complete air out; by pulling the belly slightly back.
“Discover your lungs” by practicing deep breathing whenever you get a chance; for example, waiting in a queue, in the car and especially before you go to sleep. By practicing deep breathing we not only oxygenate our brains and clear our minds, but we also improve the blood circulation and the functioning of the immune system.
Breath and emotions are also closely linked: when we are frightened, we gasp in and hold our breath; when tired or bored, we take a long breath in and out – we yawn; when angry our breath is irregular and when tense or full of worries, we breathe shallow. But it is possible to reduce the effect of emotional turbulence by bringing the breath under control by breathing more evenly and deeply.
This will calm the nerves and steady the mind. We are not only dependent on our breath for life. The easiest, and fastest, way to relax when you get stressed or angry, is to take a slow breath in and a slow breath out. Immediately this will calm you mind and body, as well as stop your heart from beating fast. Our capacity to breathe well will often determine our vitality level. Be being present energetically we can affect our everyday life and “embrace the blessing we have received.”
If you are hot and would like to cool down, why not try a cooling breath? Simply curl your tongue into a little straw / pipe, and inhale and exhale as normal. If you are cold, try a warming breath. Take a deep breath in and breathe out forcefully, contracting the abdominal muscles. Immediately breathe in again with the same force, expanding the abdominal muscles. Both these breathing methods can be done for 10 breathes (round 1) and be repeated 3 – 5 rounds (or until you don’t feel so hot or cold anymore).