Practice Belly Breathing - Improve Respiration and Increase Life Energy!
Belly breathing is one of the simplest ways to improve the respiratory system and increase life energy. It takes so little time but has so many rewards! It's also something that everyone should embrace and practice!
Everyone is born breathing deeply but over time, proper techniques of inhalation and exhalation are lost. Most adults take short shallow breaths and only use 1/4 of their lung capacity, which impedes the body’s ability to function properly. That's such a waste of readily available space!
Belly Breathing Benefits
Done properly and regularly, diaphragmatic breathing can boost immunity, increase energy, improve digestion, stimulate elimination, improve circulation, and promote good health.
When you inhale deeply, you breathe in life, energy, and healing oxygen. When you exhale, you breathe out stress, anger, and/or other strong emotions that impede health. When you focus your mind on your breath, you let go!
Diaphragmatic breathing causes your diaphragm to press against and gently massage your adrenal glands with each breath, which in turn helps to rejuvenate the adrenals. It enhances cerebral (brain) circulation of oxygen and nutrients, which helps maintain immunity. It maximizes assimilation of negative ion energy and keeps the autonomous nervous system from constantly driving the body into the high gears of the sympathetic nervous system, which weakens immunity.
When breathing is shallow, depressed, or strained, illness and disease are likely. Anyone who is looking for better health and longevity should learn the techniques of belly breathing.
Air pollution (like vehicle exhaust, industrial omissions, and smoke fill the air with heavy positive ions that also pollute your body. Your body thrives on negative ions, which help hold atmospheric energy around you and carry it into your body via your breathing. Closed in buildings with air conditioning and central heating rob the air of vital negative ion energy. Deep breathing helps your body compensate breathing 'dead air' and helps improve energy levels and guard your immune system.
Your lungs control your breath, which in turn assists the heart with the circulation of blood. Breathing controls cellular respiration and shallow irregular breathing is a major cause of low vitality and energy and slow metabolism.
Your lungs also control your skin, which 'breathes' by means of the opening and closing of pores, which are responsible for adjusting body temperature, via perspiration and shivering. Your skin is also your body’s first line of defense against pathogens. The ability of your body to overcome illness is directly related to the way you breathe. Pallid skin and poor complexion are common indications of weak lung capacity. Since your nose is an external aperture of your breath, a clogged or runny nose might also indicate an insufficient lung capacity.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the large intestines depend on the energy of the lungs for bowel movements, via the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm. Your diaphragm works like a pump to boost peristalsis by regulating abdominal pressure. Sluggish bowels are stimulated by regularly practicing belly breathing and constipation may be eliminated altogether by toning lung energy via belly breathing.
Deep breathing can also be an effective tool against stress. During stressful times, most people are much more prone to hyperventilate which over time, causes havoc on their body.
Inhale, exhale, in and out, out and in. Relax, relax, relax!
Focusing on Your Breath
Of course, we all breathe all the time. It goes without saying that when you stop breathing, you’re dead. Oxygen is vital to stay alive and thrive! The trick is to relax and not take breathe shallow, short breaths. Breathe deeply and think about each breath you take. When you focus your mind on your breath, your problems fade away, which is really soothing when you're highly stressed out! Breathing deeply is like taking a long hot bubble bath on a cold winter's night.
When you breathe, use your lungs and your diaphragm. Both must inflate and deflate to get the kind of breath you need to slow down and unwind. Short, shallow, superficial breaths are not nearly as beneficial as deep breaths. When you take a really deep breaths of air; let it all in very slowly, and then release it very slowly too!
Your Breath and Your Body
Your diaphragm is a dome-shaped structure that separates your heart and lungs. The top of your diaphragm supports your heart, and is located about 1&1/2 inches above the bottom of your sternum.
The bottom of your diaphragm is attached to your lower ribs and connects to your lower lumbar vertebrae. During inhalation, your diaphragm moves downward towards your stomach and upwards towards your heart, while your lungs expand outwardly into your ribs and chest. As you exhale your diaphragm relaxes and collapses just as your lungs collapse away from your rib cage. Both actions of your lungs and your diaphragm work together exactly for you to be able to breathe.
Belly Breathing for Longevity
Ever watch a baby breathe? Their chest and their tummies both rise and fall. This is how you're supposed to breathe; to fill up and then out. Breathing is an automatic response from your body’s autonomic system. You are born belly breathing but over time, (as stress levels intensify), you fall out of practice and start taking shallow, less meaningful breaths. The good news is that you can retrain yourself to breathe deeply! It’s important because belly breathing has a powerful positive influence on your health.
When you breathe deeply, you bring more oxygen into your body and release more carbon dioxide out. The actions of your diaphragm help massage your liver, stomach, heart, and other organs and tissues below it. In deep, belly breathing, the downward and upward movements of the diaphragm, combined with the outward and inward movements of the belly, ribcage, and lower back, also help to promote blood flow, increase intestinal peristalsis, detoxify your inner organs, and pump lymph more efficiently. The lymphatic system, which is an important part of your immune system, has no pump other than muscular movements, which includes the movements of breathing.
Deep Breathing for Relaxation
Many people breathe too fast too often. This fast, shallow breathing expels carbon dioxide too quickly, which can have many detrimental effects on physical and emotional health. When you breathe deeply, your breathing slows down. Taking slower deeper breaths combined with the rhythmical pumping of your diaphragm, abdomen, and belly, helps turn on the relaxing parasympathetic branch of your nervous system. It harmonizes your nervous system and reduces the amount of stress you feel. This has a very positive impact on your overall health!
The key to deep breathing is to learn how to sense unnecessary tension in your body and how to release tension with your breath. People who get angry regularly would do well to practice deep breathing techniques. It requires greater inner attention and internal awareness, which greatly reduces angry feelings.
How to Practice Belly Breathing
Lay down somewhere calm so you can concentrate on your breath. Breathe in and out the way you regularly breathe a few times before you start. You will feel your body begin to relax and start to slow down. For the best results, inhale through your nose but exhale through your mouth.
When You Inhale:
Your breath should start to fill up your diaphragm (belly) first. It should inflate most of the way before your lungs start to expand. (You should also feel your abdominal muscles.) Expand your lungs fully into the cavity of your chest walls. Hold it a few moments.
When You Exhale:
You should not let your breath out quickly. Slowly expel air from your lungs first and then slowly exhale from your diaphragm. When you exhale from your diaphragm, you should feel your abdomen muscles pulling in to help contract your diaphragm. Hold it for a few moments and start over again.
Simply put: Fill up your belly first and then your lungs. Then release from your lungs first and then your belly.
Reverse Belly Breathing
Reverse belly breathing is a method that helps train you how to control your breath. It’s the exact opposite of belly breathing.
Lay down somewhere calm so you can concentrate on your breath. Breathe in and out (the way you regularly breathe) a few times before you start. You will feel your body begin to relax and start to slow down. For the best results, inhale through your nose but exhale through your mouth.
When You Inhale:
Your breath should start to fill up your lungs first. It should inflate most of the way before your diaphragm starts to expand. Expand your lungs fully into the cavity of your chest walls. Hold it a few moments.
When You Exhale:
You should not let your breath out quickly. Slowly expel air from your diaphragm first and then slowly exhale from your lungs. Hold it for a few moments and start over again.
In simple terms: Fill up your lungs first and then your belly. Then release from your belly and then from your lungs.
Belly Breathing for Meditation and Chee-gung
Applying the principle that blood follows where energy leads, chee-gung brings the breathing process under voluntary control in order to harness and circulate energy, which stimulates blood circulation to all tissues. Chee-gung regulates the heart and pulse, oxygenates the bloodstream, and detoxifies blood and tissues. It enhances energy by improving respiration and helps nourish your body by stimulating secretions of hormones from glands, increasing secretions of digestive enzymes in the pancreas and stomach, which improves metabolism. Therefore, anyone who practices regular chee-gung will have a radiant and healthy facial complexion.
Meditation is a natural way to prevent illness and disease. Chronic stress severely strains the adrenal glands and nervous system. Meditation is a quick and effective way to switch the autonomous nervous system from the stressful sympathetic branch (fight or flight) over to the restful parasympathetic system (restorative).
Meditation allows the entire body to relax so that all energy channels are open. This allows energy as well as blood to flow freely, which invigorates organs, stimulates glands, and detoxifies vital tissues. Done regularly, meditation generates a glow of radiant health and helps maintain a positive outlook, which are essential to good health and longevity.
Both of these techniques can help create a natural balance and harmony that your body, energy, and mind require in order to survive and thrive in an increasingly hostile environment.
Pilates, yoga, Tai chi and Qi Gong (pronounced 'chee goong') combine toning exercises with the benefit of belly breathing.
Qi Gong Movements
Belly Breathing to Sleep
Many people have trouble falling asleep at night. Your mind is a mysterious thing! You may yawn hours before bed but once you get into bed and try to fall sleep, it just doesn’t happen. What gives?
The problem is that while your body is sleepy, your mind may not be. That’s why deep breathing is such a great remedy. You take your focus off of problem solving and focus only on your breath.
If you have trouble falling sleep:
Lie on your back and take 8 – 10 deep breaths, then transfer to your right side and do 16 deep breaths, then finally (if you are still awake) transfer to your left side and do 32 deep breaths. (Most people never complete the full exercise.)
Once you get back in the habit of breathing deeply, you should notice better sleep patterns, an increase in energy, and experience a more relaxed state of being.
To breathe properly:
When you lay down in bed on your side, your neck must be properly aligned to open your chest and get the best breath. If you're used to curling your neck under, you'll need to straighten that up. Align your neck with your spinal column in as straight a line as you can. Also, you'll need one pillow that cushions the top of your head and one pillow under your neck for support.
Want to know another great thing about belly breathing? It’s free! Lawmakers might be able to tax us to clean up polluted air but so far they haven’t thought of a way to charge us for breathing!