We all need to breathe in order to live. We can go for weeks without food and days without water, but we will die if we are deprived of oxygen for more than a few minutes. Breathing right can strengthen the heart and lungs, provide energy, speed up recovery from illness and calm the nerves, among other things. People who suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis are unable to function normally because they lack the power and vitality that is supplied by proper breathing.
Breathing is an unconscious act, but we can consciously regulate the way we breathe. Breathing deeply and evenly can promote calmness and bring about healing. It is important to take time to breathe properly upon awaking in the morning, but you can do this throughout the day whenever you remember. It will restore energy, help you concentrate better and relieve fatigue.
Unfortunately, most people are shallow breathers; that is the air never gets to the lower part of the lungs. Shallow breathers pull their stomach in when they inhale. This pushes the diaphragm (waist) up so there is nowhere for the air to go. In order to fill the lungs more deeply, lower the diaphragm by expanding the abdomen, not the chest.
We have learned to breathe improperly through tension, anger or pain. All of these cause us to hold our breath. Fashion teaches us to tuck our abdomen in, which also contributes to shallow breathing. Have you experienced how good it feels when we let out the breath we were holding in, then fill our lungs with air?
You can practice this deep breathing by first expelling the air out of your lungs. Place your hand on your abdomen while you do this, and feel your stomach flatten. Then inhale through your nostrils, pushing your abdomen out. You should feel your stomach expanding against your hand. Hold the air for as long as you are comfortable, now exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen contract. If you have difficulty mastering this, you may want to join a Yoga class that teaches deep breathing.
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