Just Breathe

Posted by on Jan 19, 2015 in Health Tips/Information | Comments Off on Just Breathe

just breathe

Breathing

Breathing is important to health. How important? Very! We can go for days without food, hours without water, but only minutes without oxygen. Oxygen is a molecule that is essential to every aspect of cellular functioning. We take in oxygen-rich air as we breathe. 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 bodies via our arteries.

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

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

According to the Merck System, the lungs are controlled by the third thoracic vertebra. Asthmatics, people with pain between their scapulae (shoulder blades), those with scoliosis and smokers should have their thoracic spine (middle back) 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 specific physiological effects (i.e. increasing energy vs. 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.

  1. 1. Reduces stress
  2. 2. Facilitates healing
  3. 3. Initiates a feeling of well-being

Subjective Experience: The sensations caused by inhalation and exhalation follow several steps:

  1. 1. As we inhale through our noses, we notice the cold air passing through our nostrils, over our tongues, cooling our throats. We inhale through hour nostrils to facilitate warming and hydration of the air before it passes into the lungs.
  2. 2. Those same tissues begin to warm, and a relaxed state begins.
  3. 3. Our heart rate drops.
  4. 4. As we begin to exhale, we notice our muscles start to release tension.
  5. 5. Upon completion of exhaling, during the brief period before our next breath, we are content.

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

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

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 focus on one of the dots, take a deep breath. Share this tip with friends and co-workers.

References:

  1. 1. Satchidananda, Yogira, Sri Swami. “Integral Hatha Yoga.” Hart, Reinhail & Winston, New York, NY, 1970l 142-43
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