The Art of Breathing

The Art of Breathing

Given that breathing is the most fundamental function of the human anatomy, it’s easy to assume that we can simply allow our bodies to get on with it naturally. Yet we can, in fact, choose to consciously breathe more effectively and therefore help improve our overall health levels by circulating more oxygen; conversely breathing well helps avoid illness by expelling greater levels of carbon dioxide. So how do we learn to breathe better?

Firstly, it’s important to breathe through your nose, and not your mouth. Using your nose requires you to work your lower – rather than upper –  lung, which contains a greater concentration of parasympathetic nerve receptors that help to calm the body and mind. Mouth breathers, however, predominantly use the upper lung which leads to increased hyperventilation, nervous tension, dehydration and other unwanted side-effects like snoring.

Nose breathing offer many more benefits also: The tiny hairs inside the nostrils help purify the air we breathe in, whilst the smaller size of the nose helps ensure that we don’t exhale too quickly and prevent the oxygen we’ve breathed in from reaching and replenishing the body’s organs. By ensuring a balanced exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen, the body’s pH balance is maintained and we also manage to reduce the likelihood of dizziness and fainting episodes – something you’re likely to experience if you exercise vigorously whilst breathing through your mouth (we don’t recommend testing this out by the way…)

There are some other important biological features in your nose that you may not have been aware of, including your olfactory nerves and sinuses: Let your breath bypass these and your ability to fight harmful bacteria will be reduced, and your body will find it harder to regulate – among other things –  your thirst, sleep cycles, appetite, memory and emotions.

The second mistake many of us make is to simply not to breathe deeply enough. Nasal breathing alone does help us with this, but there are other methods that will train you to ensure you get the maximum benefit from your nasal breathing – notably Yoga and Pilates. Many prominent yogis were aware of the importance of breath control centuries ago, and the mainstream medical community today feels that same way. In fact, Otto Warburg’s 1931 Nobel prize-winning work even concluded that incorrect breathing can contribute to the development of cancerous cells, which ought to be enough of an incentive for anyone to look long and hard at the way they inhale and exhale!

Breathwork is unique among the various natural self-healing techniques available to us:  No other conscious means exists to improve, maintain and repair other unconsciously-driven parts of the body. Your pulse, blood pressure level, circulation, digestion, hormone levels, mental and emotional states can all be controlled with correct breathing, and a qualified fitness professional will help you to coordinate your breathing with the most beneficial forms of related exercise.

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  • Aneta Filipowicz
    Posted at 16:41h, 08 August Reply

    This post is very informative. I didn’t realise how important breathing is. Shocked to hear that you can control your hormone level with correct breathing. With my hormonal imbalance I definitely need to pay more attention to that! Thanks xxx

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