Breath and Life:
Breathing affects every system of our bodies and also has a general effect on our memories, our energy levels, and our concentration. The breath oxygenates the body, revitalizing organs, cells and tissues. Everything we do, from the feelings we have to the choices we make, are influenced by the breath. Yet little consideration is given to this autonomic function that affects virtually every part of the body and our life.
The majority of people breathe incorrectly. Instead of breathing deeply, bringing the air down to the bottom of the lungs, where the richest blood supply is, the breath is very shallow, bringing air into the uppermost part of the lungs only.
A good way to experience this is to place your hand on your abdomen, take a deep breath in and feel the movement. That’s why this type of breathing is sometimes referred to as “belly breathing.” If you are not accustomed to relaxing your belly, you may find first attempts to breathe in this way confusing and seemingly unnatural. With perseverance, it will become natural.
Begin to be aware of your breath and notice if you are using your diaphragm or just bringing the breath into the uppermost part of your lungs. Where is the most movement, in the abdomen or in the chest? Practice bringing the breath down deep into the lungs, feeling the abdomen expand as the diaphragm moves downward. Take a few “breath breaks” during the day and practice some deep breathing.
This breath maximizes the use of the lungs, increases the oxygen level in the body and calms the mind.
- Sit up tall, in a comfortable position.
- Inhale, expanding the abdomen, opening the ribs and lifting the shoulders.
- Exhale, contracting the abdomen, relaxing the ribs, and lowering the shoulders.
Lengthening The Exhale
This breath increases lung capacity and activates a relaxation response in the body. It is a great breath to lower the stress level quickly.
- Inhale gently and naturally while counting. (Make the count as long as is comfortable for you).
- Exhale slowly, taking twice as long to empty the lungs.
- Repeat. As the inhale lengthens, lengthen the exhale.
- A simple way to start is to inhale for 5 counts and exhale for 8 counts
Four Parted Breath
This breath can be done using different counts, depending on the lung capacity. It develops the lungs and also activates relaxation in the mind and the body. It’s good for lowering the stress level in the body.
- Inhale to a count of 5.
- Retain the breath for a count of 5.
- Exhale for a count of 5.
- Hold the breath out for a count of 5.
- Fuels energy production
- Improves focus and concentration
- Eliminates toxins
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves bowel function
- Reduces stress, tension and anxiety
- Increases feelings of calmness and relaxation
- Can lower blood pressure
- Increases metabolism, aiding in digestion and weight loss.
- Mental fog
- Chest pain
- Digestive problems
- Irritable bowel
- Neck and shoulder pain