The Importance of Proper Breathing Techniques
Did you know that our breathing is the only major body system that happens automatically, or we have the power to control it? Every psychological state and every emotional state, has a corresponding breathing pattern. The way we breathe when we are peaceful and calm is different than the way we breathe when we are angry and upset.
We can stay alive for long periods of time without eating, drinking or sleeping, but if we stop breathing for just a few minutes, we’re dead. How amazing is that?
Unfortunately, most of us don’t think twice about our pattern of breathing… because it is automatic and we all do it on average 20,000 times a day.
So why is breathing so important? Well, for one if we want to stay alive, we need to. But breathing also brings in oxygen, which we need for our cells, and releases toxins that we inhale all day by exhaling.
So what keeps up from breathing properly? Well for one, most of us sit more than is healthy and normal for the human body. Often slouched over computers or desks, our lungs are compressed and not getting enough oxygen. Sitting that way, it’s hard to push out our stomach to fill up your lungs. Poor posture can also cause our spines and ribs to become restricted and then we cannot create enough space for our lungs to expand.
We also often don’t do enough physical exercise, especially cardio; which encourages us to focus on our breathing and strengthen our lungs.
Constant stress and tension with work and busy lives can negatively affect our breathing. We tend to breathe shallow and fast when we feel stressed, and this exacerbates the problem. Then these poor habits become ingrained.
These can all have serious effects, ranging from spasms and seizures to fainting, numbness, tingling, hallucinating, increased heart rate and an inability to control our emotions.
What Are the Benefits of Daily Breath-Focused Practice?
1. It relieves anxiety, stress and tension in the body.
2. It helps our psychological state, and the regulation of our emotions. It can help stop panic attacks, freezing or choking under pressure and lowers our stress arousal levels.
3. It assists in bringing our heart rate into a range that’s conducive to optimal cognitive and physical performance.
4. It helps detoxify the body.
5. It helps to optimally oxygenate the body and all its organs to allow us to heal better and live longer.
6. It leads to greater inner peace, focus and thought control.
7. It boosts athletes’ performance as it helps them to control their physiological and psychological reactions to stress.
8. It strengthens the important diaphragm muscle, which tends to weaken as we get older.
9. Breathing into the stomach or using the diaphragm activates the calming receptors situated there and activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
10. Using the diaphragm muscle helps massage and move the inner organs and aids digestion and detoxification.
11. It helps you control your anger and fear so you can react appropriately.
12. It lowers the release of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in the bloodstream.
13. Diaphragmatic breathing stops the overuse of the upper chest and intercostal muscles – this occurs when we just breathe into the upper third of our lungs, leading to tight and shortened muscles in the neck, shoulders and chest. It can therefore help us have better posture.
14. It helps us deal with pain and breathe through it.
15. It strengthens your lungs.
16. Oxygenating your body in an optimal way allows you to also flex your muscles more intensely. In sports, this can offer performance benefits.
So remember to breathe. It matters more than you think.
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Here’s to Your Health,