“You can live two months without food and two weeks without water, but you can only live a few minutes without air.” Hung Yi-Hsiang, Taoist Master
Without thinking we are always breathing in and out. We breathe in oxygen-rich air and breathe out carbon dioxide (those pesky toxins). We usually do not even think of this basic instinct we have which is necessary for our survival.
In the book, “The Natural Health Bible” by Lisha Simester, it says most people in the West do not breathe deeply enough, which doesn’t allow us to have optimum health. If we do not breathe correctly, our energy levels may be lower, we may have chronic fatigue, allergies, colds and many other problems. All because we may not be breathing properly (breathing too shallowly, too long or fast).
Breathing exercises can help us get through our most stressful situations. It provides support and mental clarity (think of those women who use deep slow breaths when giving birth).
Deep breathing is a practice that is a long-accepted fundamental technique in other countries, especially China and India. With more people including exercises such as yoga into their daily lives, the awareness of breathing is much more prevalent. However, because teaching breathing techniques is not a very common practice for most people, we have become bad at breathing. I know you’re thinking – come on, another thing that we need to work on?! Yes! According to Simester, “Because we are not taught breathing techniques as part of our health education in the West, many people develop bad habits out of ignorance, combined with laziness.”
The Chinese believe that correct breathing is vital for our important functions such as, blood pressure, stress reduction, and hormone secretions. Breathing correctly is the key to well being and longevity.
The book offers a couple of breathing exercises. I will include the simplest one:
Slowly inhale and exhale through the nose. With each breath, bring the air down to the diaphragm, allowing the stomach to expand with each inhalation, gently pulling in the abdomen.
Simple, right? Now try it. I tried hard to focus on my breathing then noticed how my mood shifted almost immediately. Yoga and Pilates are also great ways to practice breathing in a controlled environment. Try it out. Let me know how it works for you!