‘Prana’ or ‘Life Force’ is of utmost importance in the ancient science of Yoga.
You may also know it as ‘Qi’ in oriental Hollywood movies.
Although ‘Prana’ manifests in multitude, physical breath is one form of it.
It is the single most important function on which everything else depends – the basic unit of life.
Sadly, it is also the one bodily function humans are performing most poorly in today’s world.
We have become shallow breathers. And the damage it is doing to our body, as well as mind, is unsurmountable.
So, let me give you some solid reasons why you should start being aware of your wrong breathing patterns and put some effort into correcting it.
Here is why breathing right and deep can not only improve your health inside out, but it can transform you as a person.
Deep Breathing Makes You Happier, Literally
Wrong breathing and stress are best friends. If you have stress, erratic breathing will follow and if you breathe wrong, stress will.
An example is how your breath becomes rapid when you are angry or agitated.
So, while you are stressed you may not notice but it always badly affects your breathing pattern and hence the oxygen/ CO2 content in your body.
Becoming aware of this connection itself can save you from its bad effects.
Whenever you have anxiety or stress, become aware of your breath.
In case it is rapid, do not try to deepen the incoming breath at the same rapid rate of breathing, as that will just worsen the hyperventilation.
Instead, try to gradually slow down your breath by practicing the following –
- Initially – Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds
- Gradually move to – Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6 or 8 seconds
- Try to move to – Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds and exhale for 6
- Gradually move to – Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds and exhale for 8
Note: For people with heart problems or uncontrolled hypertension, no retention of breath, please. Do not hold the breath, just inhale and exhale in the ratio of 1:1 or 1:2
By being aware of your erratic breathing with mood swings as such, and practicing the abovementioned technique over time, you will see an immense improvement in not just your stress and anxiety levels but also your happiness index will hit a natural high.
Deep Breathing Enhances Overall Health
The human body is about two-thirds oxygen and its roles are so many that I cannot even start to talk about them.
But we all know that oxygen is the necessary fuel that converts glucose into energy used by each organ of our body for performing their respective functions – what we know as ‘metabolism’.
An optimum amount of oxygen is required for efficient metabolism. If for any reason our breathing is compromised, the quality of metabolism is compromised too.
In fact, just by giving the process of metabolism, an optimum environment can improve its functioning.
For example, eating while slouching and not giving digestive organs enough space for functioning, and at the same time restricting the movement of the diaphragm can be the reason for poor digestion in many people.
Therefore, proper deep breathing can improve all the vital functions, from digestion to better circulation, better muscle strength, and proper detoxification, thereby improving your overall health and well-being.
Add this to learning some Yogic deep breathing exercises and it won’t be an exaggeration to say that deep breathing cures everything.
Deep Breathing Increases Your Immunity
Lymphatic system in our body is the police station that captures all invaders that enter, and is hence the centre of our immunity.
Lymph, unlike blood, does not pump through the body and hence depends on certain bodily actions to move properly and reach different parts of the body.
Exercise and breathing are two of those.
Most importantly, breathing in a proper posture and in the right proportion of inhalation and exhalation is what cracks the code for an efficient flow of lymph.
In fact, that is why Yoga is one of the best ways to build immunity, because it combines exercise with deep breathing and can enhance lymphatic flow by upto 10 times as compared to the normal.
Deep Breathing Enables Your Body to Heal Faster
Deep breathing enhances healing in multiple ways. Let us talk about two of the major players – the immune system and the Para-sympathetic nervous system.
The immune system plays a principle role in not only containing the infection but also kickstarting healing. A small example would be your elbow hitting the ground and blood clot or pus formation while it heals.
All of it is a function of the immune system. And we have already established how deep breathing enhances the health of it.
Another dimension to look at is through improving the functionality of the rest and repair system of our body – the para-sympathetic nervous system.
Deep breathing improves the health of this system in two ways –
- By physically stimulating the vagus nerve with the act of deep breathing itself
- By reducing thoughts in the mind and making it calm and thereby causing better functioning of this system. Because in Yoga we know that an unsteady mind is the result of unsteady breath and vice-versa.
Therefore, faster, and more efficient healing is amongst the innumerable benefits of breathing deep.
Deep Breathing is your best Anti-aging pill
Ancient Yogic texts believe that we have a certain number of breaths for a lifetime. And hence one of the aims of Pranayama is to slow down the breath and make it so subtle with breath retention practices that eventually you can breathe with the least amount of energy required.
For non-believers, let me put it in a modern scientific perspective.
It is scientifically proven that every cell has a limited number of divisions allotted for a lifetime.
This cell division is responsible for our growth and maintenance. This is what makes us into young men and women and cause aging as the cell activity mostly limits to renewal.
When the cells cannot renew anymore, that is what we know as the death of the body.
What is born must die and therefore the process takes precedence over everything.
However, we can surely delay the process of aging by keeping the renewal process quick and healthy.
Deep breathing does this by providing an optimum amount of oxygen to the cells. It also stimulates the hypothalamus that is responsible for the hormonal balance of our body which in turn is responsible for all bodily functions running smoothly.
And also by keeping the Para-sympathetic nervous system healthy by promoting a calm mind, thereby preventing unnecessary wear and tear.
Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed the glowing faces of Yoga practitioners 😉
The Quickest Trick to Breathe Right
You are feeling lazy and dull.
Check your posture. Straighten your spine, open the shoulders, chin parallel to the ground naturally.
Are you feeling dull anymore?
The quickest and best way to have proper breathing is to correct your posture.Increased confidence and awareness is the most amazing instant benefit of deep breathing because you can never breathe deep and right without a proper posture. Click To Tweet
So, stop slouching -sit straight and be aware of your posture. Repeat every time you see yourself falling back (literally) into your poor old posture.
Breathe naturally. Do not try to overfill your lungs. The aim is deep breathing, not long breathing.
Pull yourself up, be a man (or a woman)! Now Breathe!