Breathing is not something we generally think about. Why would we when our body does it without us having to? However, taking time to breathe deeply everyday can have many health benefits.
Its main purposes are to:
- oxygenate our blood, which is used to convert nutrients into energy in each and every cell in the body
- expels 70% of the waste products from our cells, mainly carbon dioxide
But did you know, breathing also massages your internal organs and can reconnect us to Heaven and Earth, in an energetic sense.
As every cell requires oxygen it makes sense to try to maximise its availability. The brain uses vast quantities of oxygen so breathing improves your mental capacity and concentration.
Good oxygen supply to the body is also required to open up and stretch the muscles, so deep breathing is linked to flexibility.
Improved carbon dioxide expulsion
An excess of carbon dioxide in the body leads to faster, shallower breathing. This is actually counterproductive as the lungs do not get fully cleared of the gas. Less oxygen means reduced brain function and less stamina. It’s much better to train the body to breathe deeply.
Our emotions affect our breathing and vice versa. Shallow breathing helps us to detect dangerous smells more quickly, so when we are in a state of chronic environmental fear and anxiety (a feature of modern life) we tend to breathe more shallowly. Studies have shown, however that shallow breathing can actually induce feelings of fear and anxiety, so we end up caught in a vicious cycle. Pleasant odours have been shown to induce deep breathing (Homma, Massoka 2008) Breathing deeply helps us to calm our emotions.
Massages internal organs
The movement of the diaphragm during deep breathing changes the internal pressure of the thoracic and abdominal cavities. The effect is to massage the internal organs, thereby improving circulation and improving health. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.
Connecting to Heaven and Earth
Deep breathing is the key to developing energetic root, which links us to the Earth and cultivating emptiness, which reconnects us to the energy of Heaven.
Tension within the physical body is simply a piece of information stored as a vibration. It can be caused by any number of emotional or physical factors, usually of which we are unaware.
The more we practice deep breathing the more tension we will discover and be able to release.
How to breathe deeply
Breathe in from the belly, filling the lungs from the bottom to the top (usually people breathe with only the top part of their lungs).
Hold the breathe for a moment and enjoy feeling of your cells filling with cleansing oxygen.
As you exhale, be sure to relax the shoulders as you emptying the lungs completely.
Practice this for a while regularly. When you feel comfortable with the exercise, begin to notice areas of tension in your body and start to breathe in to them.
Honouring yourself by making time for you on a daily basis is an essential step to mastering stress.
Ikou Homma and Yuri Massoka (2008) Breathing rhythms and emotions Experimental Physiology, 93,1011-1021.(Accessed 8/9/13) http://ep.physoc.org/content/93/9/1011.full)