Breathe

Back in the caveman days, we used our lungs to capacity. With the advent of cars, corporate buildings, and air filtration systems, we now use only 1/3 of our lungs. Betcha didn’t know that, did ya?  I didn’t see it coming either.

When we become stressed, we shallow breathe or as I like to say, “rabbit breathe.” Shallow/rapid/rabbit breathing can contribute to stress-related disorders such as PMS, headaches, migraines, insomnia, high blood pressure, asthma, back pain and allergies. These are just a few, folks. There are a ton more disorders out there.

According to some websites (two of them being: livingbydesignonline.com and breathing.com), oxygen is the most vital nutrient for our bodies. In fact, your brain needs three times the oxygen your body does. Oxygen is essential to maintain the brain, nerves, glands and internal organs (part of me wants to say, “LeDuh! See #1 below). One of these websites states, ‘virtually every health condition can be improved with Optimal Breathing.’

 Here’s something to think about:

  1. We can do without food for weeks, without water for days, but we will die in a few minutes without oxygen.
  2. If the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it will start depriving all vital organs (read: Depression, sluggishness, irritability, negative thoughts, anxiety, chronic pain, etc.).
  3. GET THIS: The lack of oxygen has been considered a major cause of cancer. In 1947, work was done that showed when oxygen was withdrawn; normal body cells could turn into cancerous cells. Similar research was done with heart disease (a disease that plagues my gene pool, unfortunately). It showed that a lack of oxygen is a major cause of heart disease, stroke and again, cancer.

ObVIOUSly oxygen is beyond critical to our well-being.  It’s been said that any effort you can take to increase your oxygen supply will richly reward you (long, healthier life, anyone???).

Yogis realized the importance of an abundant oxygen supply thousands of years ago. In fact, my favorite yoga teacher just said to me, “You know, your yoga breath is good. Why don’t you try to implement that in other cardio classes and see if you become less tired?”  What the WHAT?!  Yep… again, it was a case of not seeing the trees through the forest.  I’ve been a gym rat for longer than some of you have been alive and yet I totally got schooled by someone 18 years younger than me. 

Let’s talk a bit about Stress Breath (Huh. What do ya know? I just came up with that. Pretty clever! I must be getting enough oxygen.) How come it happens?   Here are some ideas:

  1. We’re in a hurry most of the time and have increased stress. No, really?!
  2. We get hyper (agitated, angry, worry, etc.) too often. Can you feel your body/lungs constrict just by reading those words?? I can.
  3. We don’t need to catch our food anymore (well, sometimes we do, but we don’t have to run for miles and miles with spears and then worry that we will become the food).  In essence, we don’t need to breathe frequently anymore. Knock knock. Who’s there? It me!! Your shallow breathing habit. Let me in!
  4. Most of us work indoors where we are actually exposed to more pollution.  The body, thinking it needs to protect us, instinctively inhales less air.   

So what do we do about this? How do we make deep breathing a habit? How do we reap the benefits? Well, I’ve got some ideas on that, too. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog, ‘Breathes’.