Do you know how to breathe?
We can all breathe because it occurs naturally. But not all of us know how to breathe. Discover what you’re doing wrong and why proper breathing is important.
In a natural, unobstructed state, when we are relaxed, sitting or standing tall with chest wide open, we can breathe fully into all parts of our lungs. The free and easy expansion and contraction of the lungs, diaphragm, ribcage and spine is optimal, breathing the maximum volume of oxygen with every inhalation and letting out the maximum amount of carbon dioxide with every exhalation.
However, our breathing may become habitually restricted in various ways, without us even becoming aware of it. The main cause for insufficient breathing is bad posture.
Bad posture causes us to assume a slouched position, which reduces the volume of the chest cavity and lung capacity. As we can only fill the upper lobes of our lungs, it causes shortened breaths and promotes shallow breathing from the upper chest,. This causes us to inhale insufficiently and reduces the amount of air we breathe and meanwhile, as breaths become shorter and shorter, the whole system may seem to freeze in a certain posture.
It is very important to take in enough oxygen. Oxygen revitalises the body and helps purge toxins. It nourishes all the cells, tissues and organs of our body and keeps the mind clear and functional.
Breathing exercises, such as the full yogic breath and pranayama exercises, can increase the elasticity of the lungs and rib cage. This allows an increased breathing capacity with every breath, not just during the exercise period.
Conscious deep and slow yoga breathing has several benefits. It lightens the heart’s workload, which results in a stronger and more functional organ that is more efficient and lasts longer. As a result of more efficient breathing, there is less wear and tear and a general rejuvenation of the body. Less work for the heart reduces blood pressure while increased oxygen promotes relaxation, reduces tension and calms nerves. Proper breathing promotes a feeling of peace and contentment in body and mind.
photo credit: Shakti Om