Breathing is something that is very easily taken for granted. Due to the fact that you do not have to direct conscious awareness to breathing for it to happen, it’s possible for you to go days, weeks and even years without paying a single thought to your breath and how your breathing affects you and your health.
Deep breathing is important for nutrient delivery, toxin removal, peace of mind and healing.
When your breathing is shallow you aren’t ushering oxygen into your body efficiently. This means that you will also be inefficiently expelling carbon dioxide and other toxins out of your body. This can lead to poor oxygenation of the blood. When your blood doesn’t have enough oxygen it can lead to fewer nutrients being transported to your cells. Your red blood cells rely on a steady supply of oxygen to function. This also means that your blood will not be able to properly carry toxins away from your cells to your detox organs to be processed and released. When you take deep, long breaths you oxygenate your blood allowing it to work optimally, as well as helping your body to properly detoxify on all levels.
Deep breathing can relieve stress and relax the mind and body.
Shallow breathing communicates to your brain that you are in a stressful situation even if this is not really the case. When you are stressed out it is normal for your breathing to become more shallow and rapid. This works in reverse as well. If you start to shorten your breath you will be communicating to your brain that you are under attack and this will elicit a stress response. Deep breathing communicates to your body that all is well and that you are safe. This will elicit the “rest and digest” response in your nervous system which can help to calm your mind and heal your body.
It’s very easy to begin a practice of deep breathing. All it takes is a few minutes a day of conscious attention paid to your breath. Start by setting aside 5 minutes in your day when you know you can be relaxed with your eyes closed for a few minutes. Here is a simple exercise to bring more attention to your breath for improved health:
Step 1: Bring your conscious attention to your breathing. Notice if you are breathing into your chest instead of into your belly. Notice if your breath is rapid or slow.
Step 2: Start to consciously move your breath into your belly, breathing in through your nose with a relaxed throat rather than through your mouth. This may feel funny at first if you are used to holding your belly in, but it is so important for proper inhalation.
Step 3: After you breath in, keeping your mouth closed breath all the air out of your belly and lungs through your nose.
Step 4: Repeat this cycle of mindful belly breathing for 5-10 rounds. See if you can increase the length of time in which you are inhaling as well as exhaling as you move through each cycle.
Bonus Tip: If it helps you can attach a count to your breath. Inhaling for a count of 3 and then exhaling for a count of 3. Then as you improve your ability to breath deeply you can increase the count you are using to measure the length of your breath.
It’s great to set aside a specific time during your day to focus on nothing more than your breath. You can also incorporate deep breathing into your day any time you think of it. If you are sitting in traffic, keep your eyes open and practice your deep breathing. Sitting in your office at your desk, take a few deep breaths. Before you eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner, take a few deep breaths. You will be surprised how much this affects you and how easily this mindful breathing becomes a habit.
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