Posted by on Mar 31, 2010 in Health Tips/Information | Comments Off on Breathing

Santa Barbara’s air quality is usually quite a treat for the active person in all of us. But it’s sometimes taken for granted. Breathing is important to health. How important? Very! We can go for days without food or water, but only minutes without oxygen.

Santa Barbara Chiropractor James Neary

Oxygen is a molecule that is essential to every aspect of cellular functioning. We take in oxygen-rich air as we breath. Oxygen is then absorbed through our lungs into our bloodstream where veins take it to the heart for distribution. It is then carried to the rest of our body via our arteries.

Proper breathing is an often neglected process. If we learn to breath properly, we can best oxygenate our bodies. When we have enough oxygen, every cell of our body is happy and at peace.

The lungs are the second largest organ of our body (second only to the skin). If we were to stretch out our alveoli (the tiny structures inside our lungs that allow us to use oxygen), they would cover a basketball court.

According to the Merck System, the lungs are controlled by the third thoracic vertebra. Asthmatics, people with between their scapulae (shoulder blades), those with scoliosis, and smokers should have their thoracic spine (middle backs) evaluated to ensure proper lung function.

Yoga is a form of stretching/exercise for the mind and body that utilizes the breath as a major component. There are many methods of breathing, all having their own physiological effects, i.e. increasing energy versus causing relaxation. Following is a yoga technique for deep breathing called “Deergha Swasam”. This form of breathing is used to reduce stress, allowing for relaxation to occur.

Physiological effect: Breathing deeply helps reduce stress by giving the body what it needs, oxygen.

  • Reduces Stress
  • Facilities healing
  • Initiates a feeling of well-being

Subjective experience: the sensations caused by inhaling and exhaling follow several steps:

  • As we inhale through our noses, we notice the cold air passing through our nostrils, mouths, and throats. We inhale through our nostrils to facilitate warming and hydration of the air before it passes into our lungs.
  • Those same tissues begin to warm and a relaxed state begins.
  • Our heart rate drops
  • As we begin to exhale, we notice our muscles start to release tension
  • Upon completion of exhaling, during the period between breaths, we are content

Technique: Proper breathing comes through practice. It is like filling and emptying a glass of water.

  1. Assume a comfortable seating position where your lungs, chest, and stomach are unobstructed.
  2. Exhale slowly and completely.
  3. Begin to inhale slowly, from the bottom of the stomach to the top of the lungs.
  4. Raise the clavicles (collar bones) to allow in the maximum amount of air.
  5. Drop the collar bones and exhale slowly from the top of the lungs to the bottom of the stomach.
  6. Repeat

Helpful hint:

Many of us find it hard to practice exercises such as these because they slip our minds during the day. We can facilitate this practice by using a simple reminder strategy: blue dots. Buy a sheet of blue dot stickers and place them in various locations around your home and office. Whenever you notice a dot, take a deep breath.

Hopefully, this will help you throughout your day. For more health tips and other info, contact Dr. Neary.

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