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The Importance of Quality Breathing

When was the last time you stopped and just breathed? Th last time you actually gave yourself a moment of deep, conscious breathe? The benefits of these nourishing breathing breaks are many. Deep, restorative breathing throughout the day can do amazing things for our overall mental and physical health.

Here’s some amazing information on yogic breathing and what it can do for our bodies, written by Dr. Vladimir Topalo (http://drtopalo.healthynaturaltherapy.com):

Breathing is one of the most basic autonomic responses in your body; that is, it occurs automatically without your direction. As a baby, you breathed very naturally—in a relaxed manner when you were calm, and rigidly gasping for air when you were in need of attention. Watching babies sleep is very instructive: Their bellies expand with the inhalation and relax with the exhalation. This way of breathing is called natural, or abdominal breathing and creates a comfortable and relaxed state. Abdominal breathing is slow, effortless, and quiet. Breathing this way makes use of both the upper and lower portions of the lungs, expands the intercostal muscles between the ribs, and uses the diaphragm, a key muscle in the breathing process.

When you left childhood behind and learned to deal with the stresses of everyday life, your breathing patterns changed. You left behind relaxed abdominal breathing and replaced it with shallow chest breathing, using only the top portion of the lungs with no movement through the lower ribs, belly and diaphragm. Shallow breathing deprives the body of vital oxygen, and lack of oxygen can lead to low energy levels, muscle stiffness, and even heart disease. In contrast to the effects of deep breathing, shallow breathing creates tension in the upper body, neck, jaw, and face.

The practice of breathing in yoga is called pranayama. In Sanskrit, prana is vital energy, or life force and ayam is to extend, or control. The yogic sages had a profound understanding of the importance of the breath, and thus pranayama is one of the eight limbs of yoga. While pranayama can be performed independently, it is also fundamental to the physical practice of yoga as it strengthens the connection between the body and mind.

To be clear, we define yogic breathing as a full exhalation that empties the lungs from top to bottom, and a deep inhalation that fills the lungs from bottom to top. Yogic breathing techniques and their effects on health and longevity are constantly being examined and researched. Moreover, because the links between stress and disease are now well understood, yogic breathing is often offered as a method of stress reduction.

On an inhalation, the lungs expand and the diaphragm moves downward as it contracts, and on an exhalation, the lungs contract and the diaphragm expands as it moves upward. These movements cause the diaphragm to massage the internal organs and rejuvenate them with new, oxygenated blood. The lymphatic system, which plays a major role in our immune system, also relies on muscular movement to collect and rid the body of toxins. Therefore, these movements also improve lymphatic circulation, boost immunity, and help detoxify the body.

Furthermore, yogic breathing helps balance the autonomic nervous system. The central nervous system unconsciously regulates our internal systems and has two branches: the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system induces a fight-or-flight response, responding to situations by releasing adrenaline; raising the heart rate and blood pressure; decreasing blood flow to the liver, bladder, and kidneys; and increasing blood flow to the muscles (temporarily providing greater muscular strength). The parasympathetic nervous system is involved with healing and nourishment of the body. It slows the heart rate and the breath; stimulates the digestive organs to absorb food and store energy; and stimulates the immune system. It allows us to easily move into rest and sleep deeply. It promotes cellular growth and regeneration, which are critical for good health.

Breathe In Wellness My Friends!

With Salty Love,

Breathe Salt Wellness

 

 

 


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