The Ins and Outs of Breathing

by DavalosMcCormack on December 10, 2007

It’s the most natural thing in the world. We all do it. Right? But do we do it right? When it comes to breathing we may be taking one of the most basic ingredients for our life and our health for granted.

As a mechanical process it’s pretty straight forward. You breathe in, you breathe out. Our lungs extract the oxygen in our breath and then blood carries that all around the body, nourishing and feeding our brains, or hearts, our skin, every single cell in our body. Without it we would quickly die.

But breathing is far more than just a matter of life and death. It’s also a matter of quality of life. And for that, we need to do more than just take it for granted. For that, how you breathe is almost as important as the fact that you breathe.

Studies show that slow, deep, rhythmic breathing can have a soothing, calming effect. It can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, slow down your heart rate, even help you control and reduce pain. Doing this doesn’t take very long, and it doesn’t require any equipment or complicated or time consuming training. It just requires you to focus on your breathing. Taking a long, slow inhalation, feeling it expand your lungs and diaphragm, then an equally long, slow exhalation. It sounds very simple, but the impact can be extraordinary.

Many eastern cultures have long understood the power of ‘yogic’ breathing. It helps focus the mind, and strengthen the mind-body connection, something that even western medicine is now acknowledging is a powerful force in shaping our health.

But you don’t have to practice yoga to get the benefits of deep breathing. All you have to do is do it. Believe it or not those benefits can even include helping you lose weight. Think about it. When you exercise you get out of breath and your heart pumps faster than normal. All that extra pumping is needed to help supply your lungs, heart and muscles with the oxygen-rich blood they need to sustain that level of activity. By breathing deeply you are helping raise the capacity of your cardiovascular system, enriching your blood with oxygen, nourishing every cell in your body so they all work more effectively and more efficiently. It also means that when you do exercise your heart and lungs are already in better shape so they are better able to cope with strenuous activity.

The best part of all this is that you don’t need to go to the gym, don’t need to change into running shoes or any outfit to do it. You can do it anywhere, anytime. You can do it sitting in traffic, on your way to work, or your way home from work. You can do it waiting for the bus. You can do it while waiting for an elevator. You can do it while doing the dishes, sitting in a meeting, while shopping for groceries. Anytime, anywhere.

So the only question now is, why aren’t you doing it?

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