Breathing – a process that goes almost unnoticed and happens on such a deep subconscious level, yet it is vital for our being. Nowadays, there are more and more cases of people breathing incorrectly.
Living in a big city surrounded by constant stress, pollution and technology can sometimes bring the body out of sync with the nature’s flow. Young children know how to breathe correctly on an intuitive level. Their body follows the rhythm of nature.
With time, as the stress increases and obstacles come into our lives we quickly forget our calm manner of breathing and switch to a frantic one instead, without even realizing it.
In 1931, Dr. Otto Warburg received a Nobel Prize when he proved that cancer cells are anaerobic. This means that they cannot survive in high levels of oxygen. When a body is low on oxygen some cells start to replace it by fermenting sugar. A normal cell gets its energy through a process of respiration of oxygen, whereas a cancer cell does it through fermentation.
Hypertension is all too common, quite often as a result of stress. In order to lower the blood pressure, it’s important to decrease the stress levels. One of the oldest and most natural ways to do that is through deep, slow breathing. Not only does it calm your heart beat, but it allows the blood to flow at a more even pace.
Research was conducted over a 30 year period that showed how proper breathing can prolong the lifespan, as well as increase general health. The Framingham study found a correlation between the vital capacity, meaning the largest amount of air that can be expelled from the lungs after a deep breath, and the lifespan of that person. An increased vital capacity means a potentially longer lifespan.
Cure for Depression
Brain needs oxygen to work, just like any other organ in the body. Stroke has a tendency to leave the body paralyzed as a result. One of the causes is the lack of oxygen supply to the brain during a stroke. This is an extreme example, but looking on a smaller scale there is a connection between improper breathing and depression. Long periods of even a slightly limited air supply to the body caused by improper breathing, can lead to a decrease in cognitive functions. Symptoms such brain fog, forgetfulness, lack of concentration and in the end depression are all interconnected.
Increased Energy Levels
Have you ever told someone you’re tired and in return you were told to go for a walk or do a light exercise? This is because the body converts oxygen into energy through a process called cellular respiration. When you inhale the air correctly, more of it gets to your body, thus increasing the energy levels through conversion. It is also one of the reasons why people who exercise on a regular basis are generally more energetic than those with sedentary lifestyles.
Different Breathing Techniques
There is a countless number of breathing techniques for different purposes and each one of them has its own benefits. Breathing exercises can lower or raise blood pressure, improve sleep, help with anxiety and much more.
Yoga is one of the practices that incorporates breathing exercises called Pranayama as an essential part of the process. Coming from the East, it’s uncertain when exactly yoga originated, but there is evidence that it has been around for at least 5,000 years. Yogic breathing techniques have been applied for thousands of years, making them timeproof. I will share with you a couple of my favorite breathing techniques that I personally use in different situations.
Best Body Detoxifier
Kapalbhati is a breathing technique that detoxifies your body, opens up your nasal passages and allows your mind to concentrate. After doing the exercise you will feel a rush of energy that will immediately wake you up.
- Sit comfortably with a straight spine. Place your left hand on the knee with the palm facing upwards and your right hand on the stomach.
- Take a deep breath.
- Quickly exhale.
- While exhaling, pull the stomach in as if you’re trying to touch the back and do it to an extent that feels comfortable. However, do not apply strength or pressure beyond the level of comfort.
- 20 repetitions per set. Come back to normal breathing after each set and observe your body’s sensations.
- It’s advised to do 100-200 repetitions daily.
Sleeping and Stress Reducing Technique
It’s a simple slow breathing 4-7-8 exercise that helps you fall asleep faster or calm down during an anxiety attack. All you have to do is:
- Fully exhale through your mouth with a sound whoosh
- With a closed mouth, slowly inhale with your nose on a count of four
- Hold your breath for seven seconds
- Exhale fully through your mouth on a count of eight, making a whoosh sound
- Repeat until you feel sleepy or calm