Take a Bite Out of Air! How Breathing Can Feed You

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August 2, 2011

There are many things that feed your body and make you feel healthy and vibrant, in addition to food. Healthy relationships, a fulfilling career, exercise, and even air can nourish your body. There are plenty of reasons why you should include deep breathing into your everyday routine.

According to the Harvard Health Newsletter, “Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.” Think about yoga or even post surgery recovery; deep and slow conscious breathing is a key element. Healthy, clean breaths have been know to clear the airway of secretion, increase energy, reduce stress, and help clear your mind. It is easy to do and can make you feel so refreshed.

When you’re sitting on the couch, in the car, or at the computer, your breaths actually become more shallow. While sitting, the diaphragm is less active. In turn, your breaths never reach the bottom of your lungs. The majority of oxygen enters the bloodstream through the air exchange in the alveoli, at the end of the respiratory tract. People who are under a lot of stress and chronic pain are often shallow breathers. If you have experienced an upper respiratory infection or asthma, deep breathing can offer quite a bit of relief

Looking at your body from the inside, you’ll see that the diaphragm separates the chest from the abdomen (the major muscle used in the act of breathing). When you actively engage the diaphragm (while breathing) the chest and lung cavity elevate and expand, bringing sustaining oxygen to the alveoli during which, carbon dioxide is eliminated (a by-product of blood gas exchange). You can also strengthen your midsection, to help tone.

If you’re experiencing extreme upset, frustration, fatigue or anxiety, keep in mind, deep breathing reduces the affects, creating a calmer and more balanced feeling in the body. You don’t have to travel to an ashram half-way across the world to experience the peace, calm and clarity of meditative breathing. Simply breathe:

Give it a Try:

Remember, don’t force it; just breathe slowly, trying not to use too much force, especially if you have any known health problems.

Are you a shallow breather? Find out by placing your hand on your abdomen while you take a breath and then exhale. If you noticed that your (lower) belly (not your upper chest area by your upper lungs) does not expand when you inhale, your breath is too shallow. Most shallow breathers will notice that the stomach tightens when inhaling. This pushes the diaphragm toward the chest, causing less lung air to enter, hence poor oxygen intake. When the abdomen expands, the diaphragm lowers, leaving room for plenty of air.

To breathe properly, place your hand on your abdomen and slowly fill your lungs with air. Consciously let your stomach, ribs and chest expand to the point of complete inhalation (usually five to ten counts). Next breathe out slowly, starting in the upper chest. Use the abdomen and rib muscles to help expel air. You will do this by slowly contracting the abdomen as you exhale. Air should exit from the lower lungs last, as you engage the abdomen. You should be able to feel the deep exhalation.

Stop if you get dizzy or if it does not feel right to you for any reason.

A good way to get started is with brief periods of focused deep breaths, and eventually incorporate it into your daily routine.

This article is not intended to treat or diagnose any physical condition, rather, it is a vehicle for you to investigate further solutions for your health!

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