by Cindy VanDyke
Picture two mason jars the size of a pint, one in each hand. Most people inhale this amount of air. Now picture two gallons of vinegar or bleach, one in each hand. This is the amount we should inhale regularly to maintain healthy cells. Try to do this exercise; all you have to do is count. For exactly one minute, I want you to just count how many breaths you take. A healthy amount is 5-7 breaths. But most people breathe 12-18, which is fast shallow breathing, and we aren't even aware of it.
Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg have done so much research on this subject. What they have found is when we practice slowing our breath down until it feels normal to breathe 5-7 breaths a minute, we reduce anxiety, enhance concentration, and balance our emotions. These two doctors teach a drug free technique drawn from yoga, Buddhist meditation, Chinese qigong, and orthodox Christian monks, which helps us activate communicative pathways between the body and the mind by impacting our brain and nervous system.
This is the 4-4-6-2-Breath:
- Inhale to a count of 4.
- Hold to a count of 4.
- Exhale to a count of 6.
- Hold to a count of 2.
Breathing to Help You Fall Asleep
We have an amazing technique to help us fall asleep. It is the 4-7-8 Breath:
- Inhale to a count of 4.
- Hold for a count of 7.
- Exhale to a count of 8.
When doing this breath, we place our tongue on the roof of our mouth, just behind the front teeth. This relaxes the jaw, and on the exhale, you make a slight whoosh sound. Repeat these steps and you will fall asleep and have a restful sleep. If you wake up during the night, do the breath counting again. It is a wonderful habit to get into.
Breathing to Help with Pain
We have all heard of the Lamaze technique to help during labour. We can use that any time we are in pain. Focus on controlled breathing to release pain. If you hold your breath, you hold your pain and you prevent the energy from flowing and releasing. A deep breath in through the nose and out through the mouth, especially with sound, is a very releasing or letting go breath. If you hit your finger or stub your toe and exhale with sound, that releases pain and energy.
Other Times to Consider Your Breathing
- Always exhale when lifting something heavy for two reasons: to prevent injury and you double, if not triple, your strength. So, power and strength on the exhale.
- Always inhale if you are doing anything at all where your back is arched. Keeping air in the lungs on any kind of back bend prevents injury.
- When walking up the stairs or a hill, pump that diaphragm on the exhale. It will prevent you from being out of breath when you reach the top. You also strengthen that only breathing muscle I like to talk about.
- Walking in the woods or sitting under a tree is very healthy. They need our carbon dioxide, and we need their oxygen. It is a match made in heaven and it is called a forest bath and it will rejuvenate you.
Next time I will tell you about some more breathing techniques that will benefit other aspects of our lives.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in blog entries are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Heart Niagara.