How many times have we heard someone say, “Take a deep breath”?
It sounds cliche, but deep breathing has many wonderful healing benefits. Along with dry brushing, it helps to cleanse the lymphatic system, which removes toxins from the body, and clears the lungs of carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide builds up in the tissues of the body, it causes fatigue. Our natural response is to breath longer and deeper, but sometimes we don't pay attention to our body's needs. Deep breathing for better health is a simple thing that you can do almost anywhere, any time to give yourself some extra TLC.
Stress Interferes with Breathing
Speaking of our body's needs – I bet I'm not the only one who finds themselves breathing shallowly when they get stressed. I've noticed that when I get really stressed, it becomes physically difficult for me to take a deep breath. The first time I try it, I typically start coughing mid-breath. I have to stop what I'm doing, relax, and then breathe deeply.
Physically acknowledging the tension in your body and taking steps to reduce it, as in deep breathing, calms and relaxes you. That tension often spreads to your muscles inside and out, too, causing aches and pains and sometimes (uh-oh) constipation. Taking just a few minutes a day for deep breathing (um, yes, some of them while you're “using the facilities”) may help relieve bowel issues better and more safely than chemical laxatives. There are even specific Breathing Exercises for Constipation.
Deep Breathing Can Help to Reduce High Blood Pressure
Many of you have probably heard that deep breathing can help reduce high blood pressure, too. Again, tension and lack of oxygen “tighten up” tissues throughout your body, keeping them from functioning normally.
From the article. “Breathe deep to Lower Blood Pressure, Doc Says,”:
When under chronic stress, people tend to take shallow breaths and unconsciously hold them, what Anderson calls inhibitory breathing. Holding a breath diverts more blood to the brain to increase alertness — good if the boss is yelling — but it knocks off kilter the blood's chemical balance. More acidic blood in turn makes the kidneys less efficient at pumping out sodium.
Regular deep breathing may also help you with weight goals, either loss or gain, by keeping your body well oxygenated so it can burn calories appropriately. (Your “internal fires” need oxygen, too, just like regular fires. 😉
Good Posture and Good Breathing Go Hand in Hand
Finally, regular deep breathing improves your lung capacity and your posture. It's pretty difficult (if not impossible), to breath fully and deeply while your shoulders are hunched forward. Stand up straight (it makes you thinner, too), draw in that healing oxygen, and help your body regain it's focus, mentally and physically. Breathing.com has an excellent article with diagrams to explain how poor posture negatively affects your breathing patterns.
Small changes can make a big difference in your life.
I challenge you to join me in taking time each day, even if it's only a few minutes here and there, to breathe deeply. Let me know if you feel any different, or if you don't. Together we can help each other to heal and learn, and take better care of ourselves and our families.