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Natural Awakenings San Diego

Are You Breathing For Your Health?

Nov 30, 2011 09:13AM ● By Jamie Wiewiora

“Our breath is constantly rising and falling, ebbing and flowing, entering and leaving our bodies. Full-body breathing is an extraordinary symphony of both powerful and subtle movements that massage our internal organs, oscillate our joints, and alternately tone and release all the muscles in the body. It is a full participation with life.” — Donna Farhi

“Are you breathing?” is a question frequently posed to yoga students by their teacher who is seeking to draw awareness to correct breathing techniques. Proper breathing can sometimes be difficult and physically challenging, but is important to the body, as well as a sense of overall well-being. When done properly, each inhalation increases lung capacity and provides the blood with more oxygen. Blood well-nourished with oxygen supplies new cleansing and healing energy to the bodys’ organs.

Although we are always breathing, deep, mindful breathing is by far the most productive technique. Like the “fight or flight” response when we sense danger, rapid and shallow breathing creates a hyper state of mind, as well as an anxious sensation throughout the body. Such breathing, known as hyperventilation, can quickly reduce the oxygen in the blood and result in fainting. Unfortunately, many of us take shallow breaths regularly without thinking much about it.

The Benefits of Deep, Mindful Breathing

Deep, mindful breathing is calming. Filling the lungs and extending the length of exhalation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, inducing a sense of calm in the mind and body. Whether stretching and restoring muscles in a yoga class, sculpting the abs or toning thighs in a core-strengthening class, bringing awareness to your breath will help focus the mind, and also allow you to purposefully guide your breath towards a more productive workout. Think of it as a breathing meditation, which in yogic philosophy is known as pranayama.

While breathing techniques are like any other physical activity that requires a learning process, investing time in learning to consciously do deep mindful breathing can produce long-lasting and healthful benefits. It all begins with a positive answer to the question-—“Are you breathing for your health?”

Jamie Wiewiora is a certified yoga practitioner at Envision Personalized Health, 4760 E. Mission Gorge Place, Ste. E, San Diego 92120. Call 619-229-9695. Visit