Deep breathe in and ….ahhhhhhh … let it go! Simple like that, the biological effects of breathing are often underestimated. So let’s review some basics about what this ancient technique of conscious breathing can do for you.
Let’s go back to school biology classes, and remember how our body produces energy. Krebs cycle! By breathing, our blood will carry oxygen to our cells, where our little mitochondrias will produce ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) that is the the utilized as energy for every biological function, it is our energy currency life, our vital force in Homeopathy. Although our body also needs water and food, without oxygen there is no life for us.
Now, we often breathe fast and shallow, not using our lungs full capacity, Yoga breathing, the art of Pranayama (breathe control), allow us to take the most of it, by inhaling through the nose and expanding your belly, you are helping to lower your diaphragm, expanding your lungs. Pause and hold briefly, then exhale slowly through the nose. That’s Yoga breathing, simple like that.
Besides optimizing oxygenation and waste removal, what else conscious breathing can do for you? It does a lot really, have a look in some of the benefits:
- Reduces stress by lowering cortisol (stress hormone)
- Stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation
- Stimulates digestion
- Reduces depression and anxiety
- Lowers blood pressure
- Boost your clarity of thought, focus and optimizing your concentration
Our autonomic nervous system, the one who works on autopilot so you don’t have to think about it, it is divided in sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. While the sympathetic is responsible for arousing, stimulating, the parasympathetic is calming, soothing. So let’s say for instance that you need to run: your body speeds up, tenses up, heart rate increases, you become more alert and all functions that are not critical to survival, for example digestion, shut down. This is an effect of your sympathetic nervous system stimulation. After your run, the parasympathetic nervous system brings your heart rate down, having an overall calming effect on your body. Ideally both systems work like a balanced seesaw, however, front the chronic stress of our frenetic modern lives, it is a lot more common to observe a constant stimulation of our “arousing” system due to stress than a perfect homeostasis of both systems. How many of you feel wired but tired? Have trouble to sleep? Believes that life without caffeine is not worth living? That’s a sign of unbalance.
The good news is, by practicing conscious breathing regularly, you help you body to achieve balance, to slow down for a bit and recover. It is free, and you can do it anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t take long, and you can start simple, by taking 5 deep yoga breathes per day. Plan ahead, pick a time, for example, before bed everyday, or even while you shower. Or set an alarm to remind you that is time to turn within for a couple of minutes. As everything in life, to master a technique the answer is always practice, however, even if Pranayama is not part of your routine, you can also use this technique when you recognize that you are stressed, when you are facing a situation that l”gets on your nerves”, take few deep breathes before action.
By practicing Pranayama, you will feel more relaxed, balanced, energized and grounded, more connected with everything that surrounds you, nourishing body and soul. Remember that our daily challenges are present, and they will be, since they are part of life. We can become so used to be stressed that it becomes our “new normal” and we don’t even remember what is to be relaxed like. Chronic stress is very detrimental to health, however is unrealistic to remove all our challenges in order to relax. Life is always changing, we are constantly becoming, what truly makes the different is how you deal with it. Breathe.
Create, from within, your own reality.