It’s so….fundamental. It’s so….easy. It’s so…second nature. And, it’s so…overlooked.
Conscious breathing is incredibly important for our overall health and wellness. Without breath, obviously, we die. But, if we don’t continually practice deep breathing, our bodies remain tense and stressed, creating a breeding ground for illness.
Dr. Andrew Weil, says, “Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly. There’s no single more powerful–or more simple–daily practice to further your health and well-being than breathwork.”
Wow! That’s powerful, huh?!
I didn’t really understand the importance of breath until I experimented on my own. I was in the middle of a particularly stressful day, at the end of a particularly stressful week, and was about to totally lose my cool. Instead, I took 5 minutes and just began deep breathing. Eyes closed. Focused only on my breath. I became a believer in the power of breath right then and there.
Breathing oxygenates every cell in your body, from your organs to your brain. Oxygen is essential to the digestive process. (So, if you’re having digestiveissues, begin a practice of daily deep breathing!) Deep breathing cleanses the blood and acts as a pump for the movement of the lymphatic system. And, deep breathing stimulates the nervous system. See, there is NOTHING that breath doesn’t touch. Ok. That’s a lot of double negatives. So, to say that in a different way: BREATH AFFECTS EVERYTHING.
According to HealthCentral.com, breathing:
- Fuels energy production
- Improves focus and concentration
- Eliminates toxins
- Strengthens the immune system
- Improves bowel function
- Reduces stress, tension and anxiety
- Increases feelings of calmness and relaxation
- Can lower blood pressure
- Increases metabolism, aiding in digestion and weight loss
We are a society of dehydrated, acidic, shallow breathers. Is it any wonder that chronic illness runs rampant? I think not.
Dr. Weil also says, “At the very center of our being is rhythmic movement, a cyclic expansion and contraction that is both in our body and outside it, that is both in our mind and in our body, that is both in our consciousness and not in it. Breath is the essence of being, and in all aspects of the universe we can see the same rhythmic pattern of expansion and contraction, whether in the cycles of day and night, waking and sleeping, high and low tides, or seasonal growth and decay.”
So, how’s your breath? Have you ever really thought about it? Do you find yourself stressed out on a daily basis? Tense? Frustrated? Easily irritated? The next time one of these negative emotions hits, take a few minutes and focus solely on your breath. Deep breaths, in and out. Eyes closed. I promise it will ease your stress and make you feel better immediately. Less stress = Better health…and a happier you!
(Oh, and teach deep breathing techniques to your children, too! The next time your son or daughter is stressing out about math homework, have him/her take several deep breaths to refocus and relax. The earlier they can learn these healthy techniques, the better.)