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Why the Quality of Our Breathing Matters~

Breathing practices are a great way to become more in touch with your mind, body and spirit. Deep, conscious breathing (yogic breathing) can be used as an anchor to stay in the present moment. Correct breathing means you breathe in a way that is physiologically optimal for your body.

Unfortunately so many of us do not know how to breathe properly, or we are just not aware of our breathing patterns. In our Western culture, little emphasis is put on proper breathing technique, so we were not taught at a young age how to breathe correctly.

Efficient breathing can reduce health risks

  • Lowers your heart rate
  • Lowers blood pressure and cardiac output
  • Increases blood oxygen levels
  • Promotes clearer thinking
  • Relieves stress
  • Increases metabolism
  • Improves circulation
  • Supports detoxification

Proper Breathing~
Breathe through the nose                                                                      

Each breath you take should go in and out through the nostrils. Your nose prepares the air coming in to be used by the body as efficiently as possible.  When you breathe through your mouth, the lungs get a lot more “unfiltered” air that is raw, cold, dry and full of viruses and bacteria.
Breathe with the diaphragm                                                                                                              

The air you breathe in through your nose should go all the way down in your belly. 70–80% of the inhaling should be done by the diaphragm so that your breathing is nice and deep.                                    

  • Lie down on either a bed or the floor. Place a book, yoga block, or other flat item on your abdomen just below your navel.
  • Breathe through your nose, inhaling in such a manner that you raise the (item),  when you exhale, the (item) should lower.
  • Continue practicing this until this breathing pattern becomes natural.  Once it becomes more natural, you can practice by placing your palms on your lower abdomen.  

Filling the (Body) Whole                                                                                                                                          

Most of us do not “breathe into” our entire body. We often only expand the upper chest (missing out on the depth of the breath). Or we expand the lower belly but do not allow the upper abdomen and rib cage to expand as well (thus missing the height). Most of us “breathe into” the front body, missing the sides and the back. In other words, we end up breathing into regions of our body, and not filling the whole.

Breathe to Relax                                                                                                                                                         

Since your breathing reflects your thoughts and feelings, situations that make you feel tense also lead to tense and stressed breathing pattern. The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) can be activated by modulating the breath. Imagine that you’re lying somewhere where you feel calm and peaceful, notice how your breath flows. When relaxed, you are more likely to be taking long, slow, deep diaphragmatic breaths rather than shallow ones. Deep, diaphragmatic breathing signals to the brain that everything is safe, and that the body can let its guard down, activating the PNS.        The breath is the only autonomic nervous system function under your control. By modulating your breath you can consciously activate PNS (relaxation).

Breathe rhythmically                                                                                                                                             

Everything has a natural rhythm, your body is no different.                  

Practice Sama Vritti Breath                                                                                                                                              

Sama= same, equal, balanced                                                                                                           

Vritti= fluctuation                                                                                                                                                             

Establish a rhythm where your inhale and your exhale become even in duration, this can be done by counting the length of the inhalation and length of exhalations.

Types of breath~                                                                                                                                                                 

The two basic types of breath are:
Chest breathing, which uses secondary muscles in your upper chest. Chest breathing is designed to be used in situations of great exertion, such as a sprint or race. During stressful situations, you may inadvertently resort to chest breathing. This can lead to tight shoulder and neck muscles and sometimes even headaches. Chronic stress can magnify these symptoms.

Diaphragmatic breathing, which comes from the body's dominant breathing muscle — the diaphragm. This type of breathing is more effective and efficient. It can lead to feelings of relaxation instead of tightness.

The benefits of deep breathing extend beyond in-the-moment stress relief. Many studies have found that deep, yogic breathing helps balance the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as temperature control and bladder function. This may help ease symptoms of stress-related disorders and mental health conditions such as anxiety, general stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

 Reflect on this passage by Donna Farhi ~
"Breathing is one of the simplest things in the world. We breathe in, we breathe out. When we breathe with real freedom, we neither grasp for nor hold on to the breath. ... The process of breathing is the most accurate metaphor we have for the way that we personally approach life, how we live our lives and how we react to the inevitable changes that life brings us."