Features » Health and Beauty
ARE YOU BREATHING CORRECTLY
Kevin Reardon / 2012-08-05 13:49:23
A Twenty per cent reduction in oxygen blood levels may be caused by the aging process and normal breathing habits.
Breathing supplies over ninety-nine per cent of your entire oxygen and energy supply. Poor breathing causes or worsens chronic problems such as asthma, allergies, anxiety, fatigue, depression, headaches, heart conditions, high blood pressure, sleep loss, obesity, harmful stress, poor mental clarity plus hundreds of other lesser known but equally harmful conditions. All diseases are caused or worsened by poor breathing.
The average person reaches peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid-twenties. Then they begin to lose respiratory capacity: between ten and twenty seven per cent for every decade of life! Therefore, unless you are doing something to maintain or improve your breathing capacity, it will decline, and with it, your general health, your life expectancy, and for that matter, your spirit as well.
Optimal breathing gets you more vitality and better quality of life. We will also address food, exercise, attitude, and the environment but breathing is for many the most important part of getting and staying healthy.
Breathing fundamentals are critical.
Just because one particular breathing exercise or development technique feels good does not mean it is the best choice. Many people feel good at the beginning of a certain exercise but that is largely because so many people breathe so badly, initially any progress feels good, as it may well be. However, each technique or exercise must be based in solid breathing fundamentals otherwise; they can work against each other and cause future breathing development problems.
Like a golf ball even slightly off course, as the ball flies it will travel further and further away from its goal, robbing you of a long, healthy, vibrant life. Knowing the fundamentals of breathing helps, you stay on course.
Breathing Exercises. A twenty per cent reduction in oxygen blood levels may be caused by the aging process and normal breathing habits.
Poor breathing robs energy and negatively affects mental alertness. Unless breathing is exercised, aging affects the respiratory system as follows:
Stiffness. The rib cage and surrounding muscles get stiff causing inhalation to become more difficult. Less elasticity and weak muscles leave stale air in the tissues of the lungs and prevents fresh oxygen from reaching the blood stream.
Rapid and shallow breathing. This type of breathing, often caused by poor posture and weak or stiff muscles, leads to poor oxygen supply, respiratory disease, sluggishness, or heart disease.
Belly Breathing Exercises.
The following exercises are a simple way to deepen breathing and to clean the lungs. These exercises will also increase energy and decrease tension.
Lie flat on your back to get a proper sense of deep breathing. (Have some small pillows available to reduce strain by tucking them under the neck and knees). The natural course of breathing in this position will create a slight rise in the stomach upon inhalation and a slight fall upon exhalation.)
Place your hands palm down on your stomach at the base of the rib cage. (The lungs go that far down). What fills them deeper is the pushing down of the diaphragm. The diaphragm creates a suction, which draws air into the lungs. The air is then expelled when the diaphragm pushes up. In this process, the life-giving oxygen fills the lungs and gets into the blood stream for distribution to the cells.
Carbon dioxide is expelled from the blood into the about-to-be exhaled breath, thus cleansing the body and blood of waste products.) Lay the palms of your hands on your stomach just below the rib cage, middle fingers barely touching each other, and take a slow deep breath. (As the diaphragm pushes down, the stomach will slightly expand causing the fingertips to separate somewhat.
This movement indicates full use of the lungs, resulting in a truly deep breath rather than the "puffed chest" breath experienced by many, as the greatest lung capacity. Chest breathing fills the middle and upper parts of the lungs. Belly breathing is the most efficient method. Infants and small children use only this method until the chest matures. The yoga breath or roll breathing combines belly and chest breathing. For best results, practise this type of breathing for five minutes daily
Put your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest. Notice how your hands move as you breathe in and out. Practice filling your lower lungs by breathing so that your "belly" (left) hand goes up when you inhale and your "chest" (right) hand remains still. Always breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Do this 8 to 10 times. When you have filled and emptied your lower lungs 8 to 10 times, add the second step to your breathing: Inhale first into your lower lungs as before, and then continue inhaling into your upper chest. As you do so, your right hand will rise and your left hand will fall a little as your belly falls.
As you exhale slowly through your mouth, make a quiet, whooshing sound as first your left hand and then your right hand fall. As you exhale, feel the tension leaving your body as you become more and more relaxed. Practice breathing in and out in this way for 3 to 5 minutes. Notice that the movement of your belly and chest rises and falls like the motion of rolling waves.
John Young Massage and Rehabilitation Clinic, Villa Martin. Telephone: 96 676 4189