You know that breathing is important. Or at least you should….without it you’ll quickly die! But the way you breathe affects you in so many ways. The short list includes…..your energy level, stress, mental clarity, heart rate, digestion, detoxifying and feeding your trillions of cells. Deep breathing – inhaling and exhaling into the belly and through the nose is the best and most natural way to boost energy and maintain vitality.
Stop feeling tired, foggy, and depressed! Get more productivity out of your day and enjoy time with your family and friends. Breathing exercises can help you improve – finding focus and clarity – with very little effort. And…..they don’t take much time to learn!
An Ineffective Breathing Pattern
Our cells need oxygen for fuel – as a waste product they release carbon dioxide. The lungs are the pass oxygen into the bloodstream which reaches the cells. The blood carries the carbon dioxide back to the lungs to release on our exhales.
In our modern life, most adults have lost proper and efficient breathing techniques. Passing from childhood into adulthood, the following trends usually develop:
- Breathing tends to be through the mouth.
- More shallow breathing, focused on the high chest area.
- The respiratory muscles and lungs are not fully expanded.
- Inactive portions of the lungs becoming weaker and vulnerable to infections.
- Restricted mobility and elasticity in the thoracic muscles and diaphragm.
- The bloodstream is not fully oxygenated or purified.
- Food isn’t digested adequately to provide sufficient energy.
Yoga Breathing Exercises
Think of Yoga breathing as a “cleansing breath.” Cleansing our bodies is vital to greater physical and mental health and relaxation – while nourishment is another huge aspect of Yoga breathing simply because oxygen is such a key food.
Many breathing techniques can correct the damage and protect us while relaxing and stimulating energy. They come from the Indian traditions of natural healing and maintaining the body – called Ayurveda. Because of the connection between the brain and nervous system, Ayurvedic practitioners believe that many diseases are linked to faulty breathing.
There are numerous methods to chose from, but one of the easiest is called Alternative or Alternate Breathing.
Did you know you breathe through different nostrils at different times throughout the day?? In the breathing process, either the left or right nostril will be more dominant, depending on your nervous system activity. The two parts of the autonomic nervous system – the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, correspond to the right and left nostril breathing, respectively.
When the sympathetic nervous system is active you are more awake and alert – also known as a stress-response situations. This is when the body favors the right nostril.
The function of the parasympathetic nervous system is calming and relaxing – reducing heart rate and blood pressure. Here is when left nostril breathing is more dominant.
Nice and Easy
A simple breathing exercise – we manipulate the breathing process by blocking off one nostril while inhaling and exhaling through the opposite nostril.
Then change to the other side so that you complete one full inhale and exhale on each side – then repeat 4 to 5 times. You can use thumb and ring finger as you close off each side of the nose – I used the index finger for simplicity.
You can do it anytime, anywhere! Check out this video clip where I demonstrate:
Hewitt, James. The Complete Book of Yoga. New York: Schocken Books, 1978. Print.
VishuDevananda,Swami. The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1988. Print.