Discover the power of breath

Sunday, July 31, 2011 by: Ed Harrold...The Athletic Yogi
Tags: breath therapy, meditation, health news

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(NaturalNews) Yoga, deep breathing and meditation continue to make strides in the healthcare industry.
More specifically, deep breathing is now widely recognized for its "profound impact on our physiology and our health," says Mladen Golubic, a physician in the Cleveland Clinic`s Center for Integrative Medicine. Yet, the power of breath is still an unknown in our culture and within mainstream medicine.

Yogis understood the power of breath. In fact, postures (asana) were created to strengthen the body to sit for breathing (pranayama) and meditation. The breath is the most important aspect of the yoga tradition and one of the most important functions of the body in maintaining health.

The average American has 21,600 breaths every 24 hours (15 breaths per min X 60 min X 24 hours). The breathing process is the foundation of all brain function and 12 energy systems of the body. The respiratory system feeds our cardiovascular system and supports our digestive and lymphatic systems: two systems paramount to processing food and the removal of toxins and imbalances from the body. Breathing is also the only physiological function that can be controlled. Otherwise, it occurs involuntarily from the intelligence of the autonomic nervous system.

Yogis created various forms of breathing to control the breath and master the breathing process. Manipulating the breath facilitates various responses from the body. Depending on the pace and depth of the breath, the autonomic nervous system sends signals to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) or sympathetic (flight or flight) systems. The nervous system reacts to the breathing of the body every second whether awake or asleep. Rapid or shallow breathing strongly decreases parasympathetic response. To increase the parasympathetic response, less than 12 breaths per minute is required.

Keeping the nervous system in the parasympathetic response is crucial to physical and mental health and longevity to the average life span of the cellular body. Stress continues to be the # 1 factor in the top 10 diseases killing Americans today. Breathing plays a significant role in reducing stress and anxiety. The average American is living in the sympathetic system even while reading this article and considered in a "resting state".

Oxygen is the most abundant gas on earth for life. Begin with some simple breathing exercises drawing the breath in and out through your nose. Draw the breath down into your abdomen continuing your inhale until you feel the breath fill your belly and your ribs and reach your collarbone. Then, begin your exhale, through your nose, until all the breath is expelled from your lungs. Draw your naval back at the base of your exhale to ensure all the breath is expelled from the lungs. This simple breathing technique is called the 3-Part Breath.

Sit in a comfortable position and use the 3-Part Breath for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening right before bed. Notice the relaxation response as the body responds to the breathing pattern.

Breath is not bound by race, economic status or geography. It`s available to everyone and any time. So, breathe . . . You Are Alive!

1) NPR, "Just Breathe: Body Has Built-In Stress Reliever" by Gretchen Cuda
2) Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Swami Muktibodhananda, Chapter 2
3) Anatomica, The Complete Home Medical Reference, pgs. 36-38 & 146

About the author

Ed Harrold, the Athletic Yogi, Owner Comfort Zone Center For Whole Self Healing.

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