Take a deep breath. Feel your stomach fill with air like a balloon. It presses down into the pelvis. Your stomach presses out forward and out to the side. Pause, and then exhale. This is a simple, mindless process that we perform thousands of times a day. On average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, and 8,409,600 a year.
Physiologically, when you breathe through your mouth, many of the things that are supposed to happen don’t because the air bypasses this part of your respiratory system before it enters your lungs. When you take in air through your nose, the following benefits occur. Air is warmed and humidified before it hits your lungs. The cilia or tiny hairs lining your nose trap pathogens, dust, and other foreign particles, acting as a pre-filter before the air reaches your lungs. Nerves in your nasal passages sense everything about your breathing and use that information to regulate it. Nitric oxide (NO) is made by your nose and sinus mucous membranes, so when you breathe through your nose you carry a small amount of this gas into your lungs. NO is a potent bronchodilator and vasodilator, so it helps lower your blood pressure and significantly increases your lungs oxygen, absorbing capacity. NO also kills bacteria, viruses, and other germs so nasal breathing helps keep you from getting sick. When you breathe through your mouth, NONE of these functions can take place. Mouth breathing is analogous to expecting your body to make use of food by bypassing your stomach. It would be missing some critical steps in the digestive process and the end result would not be good.
People who practice deep breathing as little as 10 minutes a day have a much less chance of developing cancer and heart disease, handle stress more effectively and generally have better overall health and optimal wellness. Here are a few of the benefits to regularly practice deep breathing:
• Reduces the risk factors for heart disease such as lowering bad cholesterol (LDL), raising good cholesterol (HDL), and lowering blood pressure and stabilizing blood sugars.
• Cuts the chances of cancer, by 400%.
• Reduces negative stress by lowering the stress hormone cortisol.
• Helps reduce cravings for processed
• Cuts back the likelihood of diabetes by strengthening the insulin beta receptors sites.
• Improves quality of sleep by improving stage 1 and stage 4 sleep cycles.
• Lengthens the cell’s life span by cleaning the cells more thoroughly through increased lymphatic flows.
• Slows the aging process by increasing the secretion of human growth hormone – the anti-aging hormone.
• Optimizes the immune system by
strengthening T-cell formation and improving lymphocyte production.
• Improves your mood by elevating the “feel good” hormone serotonin.
• Improves mental focus and concentration by increasing blood flow to the Pre-Fontal Cortex of the brain.
• Improves the quality and effectiveness of meditation by changing brain wave activity from the more stressful beta wavelength to more relaxing and healthier alpha brain wavelength.
Breathing is something we do all the time, yet most of us don’t do it right. Here is the best place to start. Lie on the floor with your knees bent, put your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your belly, and inhale very slowly thru your nose using your diaphragm. You should feel your left hand move as your belly expands with little or no movement of your right hand or chest. Once your lungs are full and your belly has expanded, hold your breath for about 6 to 12 seconds. Then slowly exhale through your mouth making sure to use your belly to push the air out. Once your lungs are empty and your belly is contracted, repeat this cycle.
Obviously, breathing is necessary to sustain life but how important is it while exercising? Breathing triggers the para-sympathetic nervous system (PNS) and lowers your sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The PNS helps heal, repair, and decrease stress while your SNS is your fright or flight system. Simply doing diaphragmatic breathing prior to and during exercise relaxes your insides,allowing your body to perform better. To get the most out of your breathing while exercising, exhale through pursed lips. This will activate your core. Practice exhaling through a straw. Feel your core engage! You won’t have to think about engaging your core, it just happens naturally. While breathing we all go about our day without even thinking about breathing. Breathing properly is important for the body to function correctly. Try these few simple techniques to start getting the most out of every breath.