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Balanced Breath

BALANCED BREATH
ORGANS THAT WILL LOVE THIS DAY: LUNGS;
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM; NERVOUS SYSTEM
YOU MAY FEEL BENEFITS TO: STRESS AND ANXIETY SYMPTOMS; ENERGY LEVELS; CIRCULATION; BRAIN FOG

Lung capacity is one of the greatest determinants of health and longevity, trumping even genetics, diet or daily exercise. Our ability to breathe full breaths is, according to researchers, “a measure of living capacity”. Let’s have a look at how the quality of our breath and the capacity of our lungs impacts our overall health and what we can do to improve in these areas.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT THAT WE BREATHE DEEPLY AND SLOWLY?

When we breathe out, our diaphragm (the umbrella shaped muscle under our rib cage) expands, shrinking our lungs. When we breathe in, our diaphragm does the opposite and allows our lungs to expand. This backand-forth movement happens around 50,000 times a day, so you’d imagine we would have the knack for doing this well. But a typical adult engages as little as 10% of the range of their diaphragm when breathing.

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH

This inefficient breathing creates more work for the heart, increases blood pressure, and causes circulatory problems. If we increase our breath capacity by just 50% of what we are currently doing, cardiovascular stress will lessen and the body will work more efficiently. Deep breathing improves cardiac output, lowers blood pressure, and improves circulation.

REST AND DIGEST

When we breathe deeply and slowly (diaphragmatic breathing), we shift our body from a state of stress to a state of relaxed alertness, where our body can focus on important tasks such as digestion and elimination, repair and growth. This shift also helps with pain relief, promotes concentration, quality sleep, a sense of calm, and resilience to stressful situations.

STEPS TO IMPROVE BREATHING AND LUNG HEALTH

1. Take breathing breaks throughout the day
To get you in the habit, set an alarm on your phone that goes off 3 or 4 times a day. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing; you don’t even have to close your eyes; just notice your breath for three breaths.

Simply bringing awareness to your breath can deepen and lengthen it. Don’t believe me? Give it a try!

2. Train your breath
Breathing exercises will improve your breath and health radically. They can be simple and short, and you don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive leggings to take part. Square breathing and alternate nostril breathing are two of my favourite exercises. Instructions or videos can be found online.

3. Clear your airways
Mouth breathers are more likely to suffer with allergies, bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay, snoring and sleep apnoea; so, if congestion prevents you from breathing deeply or causes you to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose, try these remedies.

  • Sinuforce
    This handy, portable nasal decongestant works really well for clearing airways on the go. I keep one in the car and one in my handbag, so if my sinuses play up or I react to something in my environment I can quickly decongest and keep my breath deep and easy.
  • Po-Ho oil
    This blend of essential oils clears and cleanses airways that have become stubbornly stuck. If you are treating a current stuffed nose, place one drop in a bowl of hot water and cover your head with a towel while you inhale the steamy goodness. For maintaining clear and healthy airways, put a few drops on a tissue and leave it in your car, under your pillow at night, or into a pan of hot water whilst you’re pottering about the kitchen, and let the essential oils do their work.

4. Eat for your lungs
Foods containing compounds called glucosinolates have an affinity for the lungs, where they have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. Glucosinolates are found in brassica veggies such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and plants like watercress, nasturtium and horseradish. Include plenty of these in your diet for optimum lung health.

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Balanced Breath