Deep breathing can significantly impact levels of tension, state of mind, alertness, energy levels and health. When we are born we instinctively know how to breathe optimally. Watch an infant and you notice the baby’s belly move up and down. Infants naturally breathe utilizing the diaphragm; the muscle used in breathing. Observe most adults breathe and you see the chest move while the abdomen is still. The shallow breathing of many adults promotes fatigue, anxiety, pain, infection, disease and mind chatter.
The total amount of air the lungs can hold is approximately 13 pints (6 liters) for an average male. Females usually have lower lung capacities. Most individuals at rest exchange approximately 1 pint (500ml) of air during a cycle of breath (inspiration and exhalation). When inspiring deeply the lungs can fill close to 3 liters which is 6 fold above a typical breath at rest. Expiring deeply increases by 3 fold to almost 1500ml. The total increase of air exchange during a cycle of deep breathing can be as much as 4500ml. Greater air exchange means more oxygen to the cells. Without oxygen the cells die.
As you deep breathe you stimulate the part of the nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system which is the anti-fight or anti-flight system. The body processes shift to promote calm and relaxation. Dr Otto Warburg 3 time nominate and 2 time winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine states “Deep breathing techniques increase oxygen to the cells and are the most important factors in living a disease-free and energetic life. When cells get enough oxygen, cancer will not and cannot occur.” Deep diaphragmatic breathing is also attributed to cleaning the lymph system thereby boosting elimination of toxins. Deep breathing techniques have been shown to enhance the action of some antibiotics, boost the immune system and enhance fitness, muscle strength, stamina and endurance.
Deep breathing exercises:
Place your hand on your abdomen over your belly button. Focus on moving your hand outward as if blowing up a balloon on the inhale and inward as if deflating the balloon on the exhale. Breathe slowly and deeply 10 times or more.
Inhale slowly and deeply from the tips of your toes. The breath moves upward and through your entire body all the way to the crown of your head. As you exhale the breath descends from the top of your head all the way out throughout your feet. In this breathing exercise you are aware of the breath throughout the entire body. Your whole body is filled with breath. Do this for 10 breaths or more.
Humming Breath/Bumblebee Breath-
Take a prolonged breath in and hum it out. On the exhale gently place your lips together and make the sound hummmmm for as long as you can. Vibrations can be felt on the lips, throughout the facial muscles, sinuses and even the head. Do this 5-10 times.
If you have a difficult time with the breathing exercises fake laughter. Imagine you have a call on your phone and the person is telling you something really funny. Laugh heartily and sustained out loud.
Clark, J. A Visual Guide to the Human Body: A Comprehensive Atlas of the Structures of the Human Body
Laughter Yoga International University, Certified Laughter Yoga Leader Training Manual 2014 Edition
About the Author
Juniper Wyndfyre RN, MSN, MA is a contributing writer for Ravenhawks Magazine on natural health topics. She is the founder of Juniper Healing Arts, a business specializing in energy healing and clearing, soul retrieval, soul-life coaching, intuitive reading, sacred ceremonies and Laughter Yoga. Her goal is to help individuals discover and live the life of the true self and to remove the blocks and obstacles in the way. She enjoys laughing for no reason, dancing, hiking, reading, cooking and travel. Juniper lives in New Mexico with her 2 furry companions. Find her at Juniperhealingarts.net or email@example.com