Breath is Life
The most important nutrient that we take in every minute of every day is air. Breath is life. Your life begins with the first breath in and ends with your last breath out. Without breath/air, you would cease to be alive in 3-4 minutes. You can live for up to 3-4 months without food and up to a week without water, but you cannot even live 5 minutes without air.
Breathing and Life Energy
Modern research shows that slowing down and deepening our breath shifts us from the stress response to the relaxation response. Slowing the breath down slows the heart, normalizes blood pressure, increases blood flow to the digestive system, deepens sleep, increases energy, focus, concentration, and memory.
Conscious movement of breath can be applied to achieve a state of relaxed vitality so that optimum health is reached and maintained. The breath is one of the few body systems that is both voluntary and involuntary. We can use the training of breath as a tool to achieve heightened energy and awareness and to resolve specific problems such as lowering blood pressure, stop smoking, and lower stress.
The Natural Breath
Have you ever watched a sleeping baby? Its little tummy moves outward easily and fully as it breaths in air. This is how we all breathed as a child, fully and deeply. A full deep breath will bring in as much as 2 quarts of air with each breath, which includes energy, oxygen and other nutrients for the body.
For a minute place your hands on your belly and inhale slowly, and deeply letting your abdomen expand like a balloon. Let the abdomen fall as you exhale slowly; you are releasing old stale air. Inhale easily; feel your abdomen expand again. Press the air out as you contract, as you pull your belly toward the spine in while exhaling. How do you feel?
Reversing the effects of stress through deep breathing.
The abdominal breath is a first step in reestablishing healthy breathing. Here are some of the benefits:
- Increases the flow of oxygen to the body
- Exercises, relaxes and strengthens the diaphragm.
- Massages the abdominal organs
- Releases toxins from the body
- Helps the body to relax and release tension.
- Release trapped emotions from the body.
- Grounds and centers you.
- Breaks up the constant flow of thoughts.
This week’s practice
This next week, experiment with the following practices and notice what happens.
- Upon waking in the morning, before you get out of bed, place your hands on your abdomen and take several slow deep abdominal breaths. You can stop after several breaths or continue for 5-15 minutes.
- Several times a day take a belly breathing break. Stop what you are doing and place your hands on your belly. Take several deep belly breaths. Don’t force, just do what is comfortable for you. Once complete, stop for a moment and notice the difference.
- Before you go to sleep at night, place your hands on your belly and take several deep abdominal breaths. Then let your breath find its own rhythm and pace. Continue to watch the breath for a few minutes. If you have difficulty falling asleep, break up the flow of thoughts by bringing your attention to the breath.
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Until next week, happy breathing.