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The link between life, breath and death is undeniable, but what is often not understood is the direct and immediate relationship the breath has to our physical and mental health and well-being. For the most part people pay little attention to the breath unti
l it is seriously altered from its natural state. At the beginning of life we watch excitedly as a baby takes in its first breath or is inspired with life. At the moment of death we listen and wait to hear the last breath leave the body or the body to expire. For all the years in between it usually isn’t until a serious illness, anxiety or asthma attack, or a person’s first yoga or meditation class, does anyone become aware of the way they breathe. Even then most people have little understanding of how to breathe functionally for good health.
Before reading on spend 30 seconds thinking about what you know about breathing. Are you sure? You know we are taught to walk and talk and read and write and yet the thing we do approximately 15,000 times a day, and that we can’t live more than 3-5 minutes without, is for the most part neglected.
The way you breathe affects not only the way you look, feel and think but also affects every human body system and is a significant contributing factor in many chronic and acute dis-eases. Some symptoms of dysfunctional breathing are:
- sleep disturbances, going to the toilet in the middle of the night, sleep apnoea, snoring
- waking up tired in the morning, lethargy, lack of stamina and vitality
- asthma, allergies, blocked nasal passages, dry or sore nose and throat, poor voice quality
- anxiety, depression, mood disorders
- poor concentration, ADD, ADHD
- digestive disorders, high blood pressure
- cardiovascular disease
- tooth decay and some orthodontic problems.
What most people don’t realize is that it is not a lack of oxygen or under breathing, but rather breathing too much, through the mouth and insufficient carbon dioxide (CO2) that leads to dysfunctional breathing and poor health. Other key factors to functional breathing are correct posture, relieving emotional and environmental stress and deep relaxation.
As psychophysiological beings we are under growing amounts of internal and external stress. We not only want to survive, we want to thrive. We need to find ways to balance and restore our health and well-being and develop emotional and spiritual resilience. The quickest and most effective way is through the breath.