24 Aug The Power of Your Breath
The Power of Your Breath
While an automatic part of our being, the seemingly simple nature of breathing actually has profound and vital impacts on our health and wellbeing. The ratio of oxygen to CO2 in our blood affects us both physically and mentally. It also creates the optimal environment for our bodies to rid itself of toxins. That’s why, something as simple as breathing correctly and consciously can increase immunity, enhance workouts and reduce stress.
In a previous blog post (here), we not only explored the science behind stress, but also how meditation is a powerful method for combating life’s stressors. From the time we’re born, we take deep, relaxing breaths from our abdomens, but our innate “fight or flight” response quickly alters the way our bodies are conditioned to breathe. Every time we’re faced with a “fight or flight” situation, our body learns to breathe in short, sharp breaths from our chest. This type of breathing leads to a poor exchange of oxygen and CO2 in the bloodstream, making us feel panicked, dizzy, and fatigued because our organs aren’t fueled properly.
How To Breath Correctly
The key to breathing properly is to breathe using your diaphragm rather than strictly your chest.
- Locate this muscle by either sitting or lying on your back.
- Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your abdomen, just below your ribcage.
- Using your nose only, breathe deeply and slowly.
- Notice which hand moves.
When breathing in and out, only the hand on your abdomen should move. Otherwise, the depth of your breath is too shallow, and you’re not breathing effectively by using your diaphragm. A dailymail.co.uk article details a few tips to make sure you are breathing properly:
“’One in-breath and one out-breath are one cycle…try to slow your breathing down to eight to ten cycles per minute without breathing from your upper chest area. Aim to breathe slowly and smoothly.’. Slow, rhythmic breathing will help regulate the flow of oxygen and CO2, slowing the heart rate, easing anxiety, and ensuring blood is circulating and is carrying the optimum amount of nutrients around the body.”
Breathing During Exercise
Have you ever noticed that when your heart rate gets too fast during a workout (similar to when we’re anxious or frustrated), it’s useful to take deep, controlled breaths to bring the beat back to normal? This is an example of how regulated breathing enhances your performance during exercise. By definition, “aerobic” means: “relating to or denoting exercise that improves or is intended to improve the efficiency of the body’s cardiovascular system in absorbing and transporting oxygen.” Therefore, the more efficient your breathing, the more your muscles are able to be replenished by oxygen and the better you’re able to utilize them while performing physical work.
Don’t forget about your yoga practice, either! Did you know that one of the 5 Points of Yoga is proper breathing?! Your breath can enhance your yoga practice by helping you find a natural rhythm with the movement through the postures, as well as, allow you to get deeper into a pose as you breath out.
Finally, the hormones in our body follow a natural rhythm, as well. One example is the release of melatonin while we sleep. Rhythmic breathing helps us fine tune bodily functions and achieve well being. Doing some breathing exercises first thing in the morning or in the evening before bed will not only help relax us, but connect our body to our mind for a more-centered feeling physically and mentally.
Have you tried breathing exercises? When is your favorite time of day to practice breathing techniques?
-Health & Wellness Coach
Photo Credit: https://www.roadtolivingwhole.com/just-breathe/