Article by Manfred Kramer, July 09, 2011
Article first published as Breathing â The Basis of all Life! on Technorati.
All living things must breathe to live. It is the most fundamental activity of all creatures. We all must breathe! and yet we do not think about it most of the time. We become conscious only once we over-exert ourselves when then we become ‘short of breath’. However, we must put more consideration to breathing, as it is fundamental to our health.
Consider these few, but by no means, exhaustive, facts:
- Cancer is anaerobic (Living or functioning in the absence of free oxygen; Funk and Wagnall); it does not survive in high levels of oxygen
- Heart disease, high blood pressure are directly linked to lack of oxygen – poor breathing
- The nervous system is supported by good breathing – the lack of it can result in emotional issues, including anxiety and even depression
- Our source of energy is derived up to 99% from proper breathing
- Optimal breathing supports our entire body, both in condition and activity; virtually all health conditions, including heart attacks, cancer, strokes, pneumonia, asthma, speech problems and almost every disease known, can be improved with proper, optimal breathing
Clinical studies have shown that it is the reduction of lung volume that is the most destructive effect of aging. We can go quite some time without food, or even water. However, without oxygen, we are dead within minutes. We reach our peak of respiratory capacity in the mid 20’s. After that, we loose on average anywhere between 10% to 27% for every decade of life. With it, we lose our ability to maintain optimum health because of lack of oxygen.
Other, more easily remedied, factors are our increased lack of physical activity. Sedentary jobs and even sedentary pastimes, like TV watching, computer gaming, cell phoning, texting and so on, do not allow us to engage in wholesome, physical outdoor activity.
A 5200-person study group showed, over a span of over 30 years, that pulmonary (pertaining to, or affecting the lungs; Funk and Wagnall) function measurement is an indicator of general health and vigor, and literally the primary measure of potential life span (Michael Grant White, Breathing Coach). Also, our respiratory system is, or should, be responsible for the elimination of about 70% of our metabolic (metabolism: the aggregate of all chemical processes constantly taking place in a living organism; Funk and Wagnall) waste. The remainder is eliminated through defecation, 3%, urination, 8%, and perspiration, 19%.
We truly received from God the ‘Breath of Life’! Breathing is life!
But first, in order to improve anything in life, we must evaluate our condition. Here are a few questions we should ask ourselves for this assessment:
- Could any of our health, wellness or performance goals be hindered by incorrect breathing?
- Do you have restricted, irregular, shallow, under- or over breathing?
- Do you breathe high in the chest?
- Do you have, or suspect breathing problems?
Remember, people who breathe optimally, rarely get sick. In general, they live longer, too. Good breathing involves little energy and can be re-learned conscientiously in a relatively short time.
When you breathe properly, your diaphragm, your stomach, and your ribcage expand, not the pectoral (of or pertaining to the breast or chest; Funk and Wagnall) area. Fully exhaling is important, too. Remember, you are breathing in oxygen rich air and releasing carbon dioxide and toxins.
Following are two simple exercises anyone can perform, anytime, anywhere.
1) Stimulating Breath
a) Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose; keep mouth closed, but relaxed; your breaths should be equal in duration, but as short as possible.
b) Go for three in-and-out breath cycles per second. Breathe normally after each cycle.
c) Each time you practice the ‘Stimulating Breath’, you can increase your time by five seconds until you reach a full minute.
(Dr. Andrew Weil)
2) 4-7-8 (Relaxing Breath) Exercise
a) Keep your back straight while doing the exercise.
b) Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be breathing around your tongue.
c) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
d) Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose and mentally count to four.
e) Hold your breath to the count of seven.
f) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to the count of eight.
This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
(Dr. Andrew Weil)
Keep in mind, that the ratio of 4: 7: 8 is the important factor here. That is, exhalation should take twice as long as inhalation.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Keep in mind, that exercises like this are not very invasive or radical and therefore increase in power with repetition and practice. Do this exercise at least twice every day. This exercise cannot be done too often! In case you feel lightheaded at first, do not worry, but take it slowly at first and keep at it – you will experience improvement as you continue.
There is much more information available online and you will be well advised to do more research on this subject. This article is meant to give you pointers regarding the improvement in one’s life; however it is never meant to give advice or diagnosis regarding health conditions; nor does it replace the care and supervision of a licensed doctor. The advice given here is meant to bring your attention to important aspects in life, a widely and commonly disregarded issue that could tremendously improve your quality of life.
Your suggestions and comments are always very welcome.
Stress-free Living Ahoi,
Word of the day:
‘Do your work with all your heart,
and you will succeed – there is so little competition’
Elbert Hubbard, 1856 – 1915