Monday, October 10, 2011

Manic Monday: Breathe Your Way to Health and Sanity

If you've ever taken a yoga class, you're probably familiar with proper breathing techniques and the importance of it.  Most of us are totally unaware of how we breathe, but when we start to pay attention to it, we realize that it's not healthy.  Stress and inactivity cause shallow, chest breathing, which deprives the body of oxygen.

Fortunately, our breathing is something that we can control.  Conscious breathing exercises have a plethora of benefits to the body.  They can reduce stress, calm the body and mind, and have also been shown to help improve the immune system and enhance digestion.  There are hundreds of breathing exercises available on the internet or through workshops on yoga and other Eastern traditions.  If you've never experimented with breathing, I highly recommend exploring its benefits.

As a smoker for many years, I learned about the importance of breathing the hard way.  Smoking and shallow breathing kept my lungs from working at their full capacity, and I often found climbing stairs or short hikes difficult.  Since quitting, I have explored different ways to increase my lung capacity like holding my breath under water (I'm really trying to become a merman), diaphragmatic breathing (slow or quick and sharp), and other yogic breathing techniques.  Strenuous exercise requires a lot from the lungs as well and is a great way to keep the lungs and blood healthy.

Ultimately, the goal is to learn how to breathe properly through the diaphragm.  Deep, slow breathing should be natural and happen when we are not conscious of our breathing.  However, this takes time and effort.  Practicing conscious breathing every day for a minimum of 15 minutes can benefit anyone.  Happy breathing!

Mystic Merman 

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