Breathing is the process of moving air in and out of the lungs and enables us to get oxygen into our lungs, as well as expelling carbon dioxide from the body. It can be a conscious process as well as an unconscious one.
Oxygen in the breath goes from the lungs into the bloodstream and is needed for every process in the body, especially the function of the heart, brain and muscles. The muscles used for breathing are the diaphragm, the intercostal (rib) muscles and sometimes the accessory muscles of the shoulders and neck.
Adults breathe about 18 times a minute, which is more than 25,000 times a day. Children breathe even faster than that.
Breathing efficiently and effectively will:
• Improve energy
• Improve digestion
• Enhance brain function
• Reduce anxiety
• Give an increased feeling of wellness.
Decreased use of the diaphragm and increased work of the accessory muscles can lead to neck/shoulder pain and migraines.
When we are confronted with pain, it is our nature to hold our breath, but breathing through the pain is actually what will help us the most. When we breathe deeply, we oxygenate the blood, which causes our brain to release endorphins; this helps reduce stress in the body and decrease levels of pain.
It’s hard to take those deep breaths if your muscles are tight and your spine or rib cage lack flexibility - physiotherapy, massage and pilates can help with mobility, stability and strength in the body.
Principles of breathing:
- Breath in through the nose and out through the mouth
- Breath with the diaphragm- using the elasticity of the lower rib cage, not with the shoulder muscles
- Try to breath in a relaxed way
- Breath rhythmically- inhale for 2-3 seconds, exhale for 3-4 seconds with a 2-3 second pause at the bottom of the exhale.
- Be aware of good posture.
Try to take a few minutes each day to do some conscious deep breathing to relax your body and calm your mind.
“Breathing is the first place, not the last, one should look when fatigue, disease or other evidence of disordered energy presents itself.”- Sheldon Saul Hendler, M.D.