Breathing In Good Health


Published:

Ancient cultures included breathing exercises as part of their daily health routines, as do many modern alternative medicine treatments. Every cell of our bodies is dependent upon oxygen to provide energy for life as well as to destroy viruses and bacteria through oxidation (burning). Cancer cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment.

Healthy, deep, diaphragmatic breathing is the best way to oxygenate your body and to expel carbon dioxide and toxins. Seventy percent of your body’s natural toxins are released during exhalation. Deep breathing not only allows more oxygen into the body, it also cleanses the body of waste.

Check your breathing pattern by lying flat on your back and relaxing. Place your hands on your belly and observe the movement here without making an effort to consciously change your breathing pattern. If there is little or no movement in the belly it means the diaphragm is not being used, which results in shallow breathing.

Gradually begin to experiment with deep breathing to increase your O2 uptake, then see how you feel using these exercises from both ancient and modern times.

The Yogi Complete Breath was introduced to the West in the early 1960’s by Yogi Ramacharaka. The instructions are to sit or stand during the exercise. Breathing through the nostrils, inhale at a steady pace, first filling in the lower part of the lungs down near the belly. Next, as you direct the air upwards, let the ribs expand, bringing air into the lower ribs, mid-breastbone and chest. The last area to be filled is the higher lung, protruding chest and upper ribs. The outbreath starts by slightly drawing in the abdomen that pushes air up to the highest part of the lungs. It can seem mechanical at first, but as you get accustomed to this breathing technique, let it become a continuous flow.

Chinese "chi kung" (qigong) and yogic "pranayama" are a series of ancient breathing practices that can help one feel energized and empowered. Take in the deepest breath you can and hold it for as long as is comfortable. Let the body relax as you hold your breath. Then naturally let go of the breath. Notice the alertness and maybe even a deep slower and fuller breath.

Alternate nostril breathing, a Kundalini Yoga technique as taught by Yogi Bhajan, energizes and calms the nervous system. It also creates whole brain functioning by balancing right and left hemispheres, and is both integrating and grounding. Use full relaxed, deep breaths for this exercise. Use the thumb of the right hand to close the right nostril and gently and fully inhale through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with the index or ring finger and exhale through the right nostril. Now inhale through the right nostril. Then close the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. Continue repeating, alternating nostrils after each inhalation.

Holistic doctor, Andrew Weil, MD, suggests the following three breathing exercises to his patients.

  1. Sit in a comfortable, upright position with feet on the floor and uncrossed legs. Use the ancient Yoga and qigong technique of placing the tip of your tongue just behind the top front teeth. Start by letting out a long breath through the mouth. Breathe in through the nose on a count of four. Hold the breath for a count of seven. Release the outbreath on a count of eight through the mouth. This seemingly simple technique is powerful. Start off with four cycles of this exercise twice a day. It not only oxygenates the body, but increases mindfulness.
  2. A result of shallow breathing can be the build up of carbon dioxide that makes one feel tired. This is often caused by the exhalation being too short. To balance the in and out breath, sit in a relaxed position and consciously take in a gentle deep breath, then exhale completely. With a little more effort at the end of the outbreath, squeeze out three quick, short breaths. You’ll feel your abdomen muscles working automatically. Inhale and repeat this for a few minutes or as long as is comfortable.
  3. Create a calming and energizing effect with rhythmic breathing. As you relax, gently direct the breath while repeating the following: "Deeper, quieter, slower, regular." After a few minutes, you will notice a profound relaxation.

Author Mark Hyman, MD, offers the ultra-simple Ultra Mind Solution with this relaxing awareness exercise. While sitting up in a comfortable position, close your eyes and let the abdomen relax. Breathe deep through the nose and into the belly to a count of five. Pause one second. Breathe out through the mouth on a count of five. Repeat for five cycles and notice how you feel.

For advanced breathwork, the connected or circular breath is best done lying down. Place your hands on your belly to encourage deep abdominal breathing, then connect your deep inhale and exhale without pauses between breaths. You may notice a warm tingling sensation in the hands, face or feet that may spread throughout the body. The tingling may intensify and cause cramping. Old injury sites within the body that have been oxygen-deprived for many years and have become repositories of unhealed emotion and pain and may be triggered by the rush of oxygen flooding the body, generating intense feelings of being out of control, release and eventually joy and deep relaxation. Healing techniques that use circular breathing to release deep emotional blocks such as rebirthing and holotropic breathwork require the presence of a trained therapist.

Mary Shaffer is a freelance writer and elder living self-sufficiently, sensibly and sustainably. Her approach to health care is self-care first and when help is needed search out more than one discipline. Mary can be reached at 413-339-4342.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

February 25, 2018

The stars are hyper busy. From sunrise until late tonight the celestial agenda is quite full.The waxing Moon is in Cancer. Home and family life is sure to be eventful and for the most part, satisfying. Early morning inspiration comes via a conjunction…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

February 2018

With Deborah Sisson When we are living with an attitude of beginner’s mind we are open to embracing possibility at each new moment and stage of life. We meet ourselves right where we are...

Cost: $35

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-969-8968
Contact Name: Brian Serven
Website »

More information

Snow Moon - Spring Tonics I Tree saps, barks and roots - the liver tonic herbs and digestive health - herbal decoctions Please email rjrcnm@gmail.com if interested. Attendees will receive...

Cost: Drop in Fee $10 includes all materials and handouts.

Where:
Jefferson, MA


Sponsor: Hillside Herbals
Telephone: 508-847-8615
Contact Name: Rachel Ross
Website »

More information

Come by anytime during open shopping hours! Friday, February 23: 3:00 pm - 9:00 pm Saturday, February 24: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday, February 25: 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm We are very...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Are you curious about yoga but don't know where to begin? The Intro to Yoga Series is a great place to start your practice. This series will provide a safe, non-competitive and welcoming...

Cost: $90 for series

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut St, Suite A
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Stress less, sleep better, have fun! Designed to help preteens develop self-awareness, emotional resilience, healthy body image, and compassion through asana, breathing practices, meditation and...

Cost: $18

Where:
Bliss Through Yoga
484 Bedford St
East Bridgewater, MA  02333
View map »


Sponsor: Bliss Through Yoga
Telephone: 508-331-3564
Contact Name: Janice
Website »

More information

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is...

Cost: $11-$15 per class

Where:
Chelmsford Wellness Center
3 Littleton Road, 2nd Floor
Westford, MA  01886
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

A guided tour in discovering, confirming and verifying your personality, behaviors and habits. A three part series at the Waltham Public Library Monday, February 5 7:15PM Monday, February 12...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 781-314-3429
Contact Name: Louise Goldstein
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events
No Events

March - June 2018 Learn how to hypnotize, how to use hypnosis to help clients, and how to turn hypnosis into a profitable business. Instructor John Koenig has practiced hypnosis since 1998.

Where:
Richmond Square Technology Center
Providence, RI


Telephone: 401-374-1890
Website »

More information

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is integrating into treatment plans. By...

Cost: $12-$17 per class

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Ceneter
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

Mind-Body Healing (or "Mind-Body Therapy") is based on the idea that the mind and body act as one in the healing process. It uses specific techniques to quiet the mind, release negative...

Cost: $65

Where:
Newton South High School, Wheeler, 2107
140 Brandeis Road
Newton Center, MA  02459
View map »


Sponsor: Newton Community Education
Telephone: 617-559-6999
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

“He who does not understand astrology is not a doctor but a fool.” - Hippocrates (460BC - 380 BC), father of medicine In this workshop you will learn the healing potentials of the 12...

Cost: $95

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
90 Main Street
Andover, MA  01810
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

This workshop is packed with tools and techniques to help you stay balanced and in tune with the seasons. Join John and dive deep into your body with this workshop focused on the crown-7th chakra....

Cost: $70

Where:
Balance Bethlehem
2087 Main Street
Bethlehem, NH  03574
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags