Can we breathe our way to being healthy and happy?
Thursday, June 9, 2011 - by Adam Helfer
WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 - Breathing could be considered the most important function of the body, as all other functions are dependent on it. A person can live some time without food, and a shorter time without drinking water, but to not breathe would end one's existence in a few minutes time.
From the first breath of a newborn baby to the last gasp of a dying man, life is but a series of breaths. Breath not only fuels our vital functions; it's totally interconnected to our thoughts and emotions, too.
The ancient science of Pranayama exclaims that the breath and mind are actually connected. When we become startled or frightened, we may hold our breath. We may get excited and breathe fast, or we breathe that great big "sigh of relief." All are good examples of the breath-emotions connection.
The good news is that we can consciously use our breath to our advantage to strengthen the mind, calm ourselves, and give ourselves more energy with the practice of "conscious breathing."
Peptides and Breathing.
Whether you are a Yogi or a woman in labor, the technique of conscious breathing is very powerful.
Research has shown that variations in the rate and depth of breathing change the quality of poly-peptides (short chains of amino acids, which neuroscientist Candace Pert nicknamed "the molecules of emotion") that are produced in and released from the brain and diffused through our cerebrospinal fluid into our bloodstream and cells. Since many of these poly-peptides are endorphins and other pain relieving substances, we can soon achieve a state of well being or a diminution of pain through the control of breathing. Virtually any peptide found anywhere can be found in the in the respiratory system, thus showing the powerful connection between breath and emotions.
Pranayama and the "Yogi Complete Breath"
Pranayama states that it's not a matter of just sitting and consciously breathing, but of how one actually inhales and exhales. It notes that most people breathe too "high," breathing shallowly up towards their clavicles and getting a poor return on breath to physical and mental nourishment.
It recommends that we practice what is called a Yogi "complete breath," which incorporates the good points of "high breathing" while involving the diaphragm and lower organs.
To get started, stand or sit erect. Breathe through the nostrils, work to fill up the lowest part of the lungs, then the middle, and then the highest. Practice making inhalations smooth. Hold them for a few seconds and exhale slowly. When all the air is totally expelled from your lungs, relax your chest and abdomen and then repeat.
Try to clear your mind and focus only on your breath when you do this exercise. Envision yourself breathing in healing, purifying energy and exhaling stress, disease, and negative thoughts. Start with ten breaths and work your way up to as many as you want. You can do this throughout the day for calming breaks and pick me ups. You can also make a goal of retraining yourself to take full breaths.
There are many different pranayama techniques, but this one is the most broadly practiced and is the most basic and useful for both beginners and advanced practitioners.
Regular conscious breathing can be a real panacea, offering such benefits as: mind and body relaxation • better sleep • better concentration • lower blood pressure • improved digestion • strengthening of the nervous and respiratory systems.
A little conscious breathing can go a long way and it's a practice anyone can do. There are no side effects, and benefits are felt every time. Take charge of your own health by using your body's own pharmacy for health and well-being.
Molecules of Emotion- Dr. Candace Pert
Science of Breath- Yogi Ramacharaka
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