breath in deeply: bring your mind home to your body

Breath is the gift of life – one we are used to and do not see it as such. It’s become an automatic experience on our part which, in many ways, it is. Have you ever thought about it? Do you breathe, or does the breathing happen without your conscious involvement? When you are focussed on your activities, you still breathe, and when asleep, your breathing goes on.

The reason for this is the hormones that stimulate respiration. They do this through the endocrine system. The endocrine system connects to the respiration and circulatory system.

According to Healthline, breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you’re sleeping, can lead to problems. In children, mouth breathing can cause crooked teeth, facial deformities, or poor growth. In adults, chronic mouth breathing can cause bad breath and gum disease. It can also worsen symptoms of other illnesses. Breathing through the mouth only becomes necessary when you have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. Also, when you are exercising strenuously, mouth breathing can help get oxygen to your muscles faster.

It is however very important to breathe through the nose. Aside from the benefits of the nose producing nitric oxide which increases the lungs’ ability to absorb more oxygen, and easy transportation of oxygen through the body by allowing the blood vessels to dilate. The nose also acts as a filter retaining small particles such as pollens and dust, adds moisture to the air preventing dryness in the lungs, and warms cold air to body temperature before it gets to the lungs.

We live most of our lives breathing in shallow breaths. Conditioned by our environments with sedentary work and lack of physical exercise, many fall victims to this. Shallow breathing over time weakens the strength of our respiratory muscles. Creating tension in our upper body and negatively affecting our health. Shallow breathing also leads to Anxiety, stress, and panic attacks. Shallow breathing, also known medically as hypopnea, may result in hypoventilation. Causing a build-up of carbon dioxide in an individual’s body, a symptom known as hypercapnia (Wikipedia).

Diaphragmatic breathing is said to be the best. Diaphragmatic breathing is deep breathing. When we breathe in, or inhale, our diaphragm contracts and moves downward. This increases the space in our chest cavity, and our lungs expand into it. The muscles between our ribs also help enlarge the chest cavity. They contract to pull our rib cage both upward and outward when we inhale. These deep breaths strengthen our lungs and allow for effortless proper breathing.

Inhaled and exhaled air

On inhales, we have more oxygen than carbon dioxide, and vice versa on exhales. The nitrogen levels are almost constant.

Cellular respiration occurs when the cells of our body use oxygen from the inhales to get energy from the foods we consume. The cells use oxygen to breakdown sugars, and carbon dioxide is produced in turn, releasing energy.

Our existence is dependent on the process of breathing since this is the route of most of our energy. The quality of your breathing influences the quality of your life. Correct breathing enhances one’s life. It decreases our stress levels, creating calmness in our lives, and detoxifies the body. Also, it increases body energy improving immunity, and lowering blood pressure. It also helps in digestion and supports the correct body posture. Always remember to take deep breaths within your day, especially when feeling overwhelmed.

‘Breath in deeply to bring your mind home to your body” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Originally published by Kevin Kinge Personal Development & Literature

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