Breathe Deep

Breathing is simple, right? It may seem like it, but there really is a skill to learn how to breathe effectively. Many people inhale and exhale in such a way that that the air drawn in barely expands the chest. When air is drawn in through the nose deeply, it makes it to the lower part of the lungs. When taking a deep breath in, the abdomen expands which is considered the most natural form of breathing.

deep breath

Due to poor breathing habits most people use less than a third of their total lung capacity. This means that better breathing habits can more than double the amount of oxygen that reaches the lungs, blood and ultimately the cells of the body. Increased oxygen means increased circulation, better detoxification and nourishment of all body cells or in short, a healthier body.

Oxygenate the Cells

An excellent way to improve breathing is through regular exercise. When the body moves, it naturally demands more oxygen. Brisk walking, jogging and cross country skiing are perfect ways to increase oxygen intake. Breathing should never be forced or choppy; it should be gentle, easy and smooth flowing.

There are simple stretching exercises which can be done anytime. Stand erect and exhale until the lungs are empty. Slowly raise the arms to a horizontal position in front of the body, breathing in gently and deeply. Hold the breath for a moment. Continue lifting the arms to an almost vertical position on each side of the head while continuing to inhale. As the arms are raised high more air is drawn into the lungs. Gently lower the arms and breathe out slowly and completely. Repeat this several times in the morning and in the evening to maximize the full benefits.

Poor breathing habits develop over a long period of time and it takes patience and perseverance to change them, but it's well worth the effort. The increased oxygen supply that comes with exercise tends to promote mental clarity and brain power. A 2008 report entitled Nature Reviews Neuroscience, co-authored by Kirk Erickson at the University of Illinois, showed that 30 minutes of moderate to heavy running on a treadmill, three times a week, improved thinking ability and increased the speed of the decision-making process.

Optimal Breathing Can Combat Stress

Deeper and slower breathing is also the perfect remedy for stress. The fight or flight response which most people unconsciously adopt in response to a perceived stressor, causes muscles to contract and restricts breathing. By consciously altering the breathing pattern with deeper and slower breaths it's possible to relax the entire nervous system in a relatively short time. The deeper the breath the less often the need to breathe.

The average person breathes about 16 times a minute. Those who are skilled in proper breathing, breathe only 5 or 6 times a minute. The slower and deeper the breathing, the calmer the person.

Posture plays a significant role in the ability to breathe well. When slouched in a chair the rib cage compresses the lungs making it difficult for them to fill with air. The more erect while sitting or standing, the better the breathing capacity. Deep breathing in turn will strength muscles and help them work more efficiently thus improving posture. Even the internal organs receive a good workout through proper breathing; the contracting and expanding diaphragm massages the kidneys, livers, stomach and heart.

Breathing is the most vital of all body functions and improvement in breathing patterns and breathing capacity brings about an immediate improvement in all other body functions. Breathing is the very foundation of life and it enhances the body's ability to regenerate itself. The next time fatigue or lethargy sets in, think of nature's instant energizer...take a deep breath!
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