Breathing exercises for all ages and why it is important to breathe properly
In my previous blog, I spoke about breathing and touched on ways to improve your breathing. In this blog, I want to share a few, easy to do exercises, to not only clear the lungs, but improve breathing and circulation.
- Taking a deep breath in, whilst pushing the abdominal out (as if you are blowing up a balloon). Slowly exhale and let it drop. Try to inhale and exhale for 8 – 10 breathes.
- As you inhale, push the air up into the lungs. The ribcage will expand as the lungs are filled with air. Again, 8 – 10 breathes in and out. Think of pulling up a zip.
- You can combine the above, by starting to inhale in the abdominal area, then continue by filling the lungs, then exhale from the lungs back down.
- Another great way to breathe, is by holding your breath for a few seconds, before you exhale. This breathing should be done carefully, because if you are not used to it, it can cause dizziness. Do not hold the breath for longer than 5 seconds and, if it is your first time, hold your breath for 2 – 3 seconds at first.
When you hold your breath for a few seconds, before exhaling, the oxygen can travel to those parts and cells of the body, that don’t get enough oxygen. As mentioned before, most people (whether they are ill, a smoker, suffer from sinus or not), don’t use their whole lung capacity when breathing. The way we sit at a desk, in front of our computers, televisions, on the couch, and the like, often compresses the lungs.
When you sit with a rounded back, slouch or walk with your shoulders pulled forward, not only are you putting immense strain on your whole skeletal system, but the lungs cannot function optimally.
Breathing is one of those things that come naturally and, is often taken for granted. However, breathing is what keeps you alive! When you breathe more deeply, become more aware of how you breathe and practise deep breathing, more oxygen can flow through the body; nourishing all the cells, blood vessels and the like. Breathing also helps to calm the mind and body, helps you to relax, lessens stress and aids in a good night’s sleep. When you are stressed, for example, your brain releases cortisol (“stress hormones”) and, by breathing slower and deeper, your heart rate slows down. The oxygen that is in your blood stream, tells the brain to relax and, so it does!
Deep, proper breathing, aids in pain relief. When the endorphins (“happy hormones”) are released (as stated above when you are stressed), your body and mind calm down. These endorphins also aid in combatting pain. Another bonus is that breathing properly stimulates the lymphatic system; it detoxifies the body as more carbon monoxide is released from the body. Did you know that your breathing is in charge of 70% of cleansing the body of toxins? The other 30% is through your bladder and bowels. If you don’t breathe properly, your body works overtime to try and eliminate the toxins, which it can’t do without breathing. On a side note; movement is also important to help the lymphatic system (in a previous blog post I delved into Rebounding).
Breathing improves immunity, because when you breathe better, your body can absorb nutrients, vitamins and minerals, more efficiently. When your body is cleaner (and your immune system strong), illness rarely takes hold. Other wonderful things about proper breathing are that you have more energy, it lowers blood pressure, improves digestion and is supports good posture. The more oxygen in the body, the better your stamina. At the same time, your muscles relax, which allow your blood vessels to dilate; improving circulation, thus, it lowers your blood pressure.
Not only does more oxygen aid the body and blood vessels, but also the cells, muscles, brain and all the organs inside your body. The more oxygen flows in, the better your organs function, for example it can aid in improving digestion. Last, but not least. When you breathe more deeply, you instinctively straighten your posture. Your lungs expand, your diaphragm pulls down and in turn, your torso straightens in order for all of this to be happening. Breathing is not a part of life; it is life itself. When you breathe properly, not only is it good for the body and mind, but also the soul…and, sometimes, the people arou