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  • Writer's pictureMichael McEntee

Take a breath

I think it’s safe to say that in these troubling times, we need to give ourselves a break and simply recognise that we’re all fallible and human (in a naturally imperfect way). Moreover, as we embrace those times when we’re just not feeling happy or on top of our game, can we develop our senses to become more attuned to our feelings? Can we learn to acknowledge if our feelings are merely momentary and inconsequential, or can we recognise and react appropriately if they are longer lasting and subsequently detrimental to the quality of our lives?

With this in mind, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of our breath, something that is all too often taken for granted.

“Each breath is a new me”

Breathing techniques and exercises are becoming an important part of almost all healing disciplines. Studies show that a proper inhale and exhale technique, if exercised at proper intervals, has measurable medical benefits, including stress reduction.

Slow, deep breathing is a powerful anti-stress technique. When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where the oxygen exchange is most efficient, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety eases and the mind calms.

Some people have eliminated their anxiety symptoms simply by changing the way they breathe. There is a whole science behind proper breathing techniques which goes back thousands of years. Practitioners of Yoga know that the connection between the mind and the body centers on breathing properly.

While breathing techniques vary from expert to expert, these are common to most of them:

  • Breathe into your diaphragm, not shallow "chest" breathing

  • Inhale through the nose

  • Exhale through the mouth

  • Take longer to exhale than to inhale

  • Slow down! (reduce your breaths-per-minute)

  • Practice until it becomes your natural breathing pattern.

Here's a few facts that you may find interesting:

  • Science has proven that cancer is anaerobic - it does not survive in high levels of oxygen.

  • Shortness of breath and heart disease are directly linked - the heart goes into spasm when it is deprived of oxygen.

  • Studies have shown that there is a high correlation between high blood pressure and poor breathing.

  • Most emotional issues, including anxiety and depression, result from the nervous system being out of balance, and guess what? Breathing drives the nervous system.

  • Optimal breathing helps to promote weight loss: oxygen burns fat and calories.

  • Breathing well is the key to sleeping well and waking up feeling rested.

  • Breathing provides 99% of your energy. Without energy, nothing works.

  • Virtually every health condition and human activity is improved with optimal breathing.

If you're interested in more then why not check out the numerous YouTube videos on how to breath properly and for your body’s benefit. Give it a try!

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