The Healing Power of the Breath
Take a moment right now and take a full deep breath. Allow your lungs to fill completely and then relax and let the air move slowly out. Now take one more. Notice what happens inside your body. It’s very likely that you much more relaxed and present in this moment. This is the power of the breath. But that’s not all the breath can do for you. Here are my top 5 ways that breathing can dramatically improve your health.
Benefit #1: More oxygen. Each one the 75 trillion cells of your body needs oxygen to survive. When we consciously take a breath, we saturate our cells with life-giving oxygen and allow them to fully function. It’s pretty simple really. Breathe more = More oxygen
Benefit #2: Improved digestion. Deep breathing quickly improves digestion because it allows blood to flow to the organs of digestion like your stomach, intestines, liver and gall bladder. As these organs experience more blood flow, they increase their function and digestion improves. Next time you sit down to a meal, take a few deep breaths before you begin eating. Not only will you enjoy the meal more, you’ll get the most nutrition from your food.
Benefit #3: Increased detoxification. Your lungs are one of the ways your body eliminates wastes and toxins. Each time you exhale, you remove toxins from your body. When we take shallow breaths and are not consciously breathing, we don’t tap into that powerful waste removal method and there is a potential for toxins to build up and contribute to health problems.
Benefit #4: Improved memory and clarity of thoughts. Having plenty of oxygen and blood flow to the brain is vital for brain health and memory. By taking conscious deep breaths, blood flow to the brain is enhanced. This brings nutrients and oxygen, allowing the brain to have all it needs for crystal clear thoughts and lasting memories.
Benefit #5: Support for stress. Proper breathing can actually rewire your nervous system and help you deal with stress in a healthy way. You may have heard of one of the aspects of the nervous system called the “Fight or Flight” nervous system. This part of our nervous system is how we deal with stressful situations. When we experience stress our heart rate increases, our pupils dilate, and blood flows away from our internal organs and moves to our muscles. During this time blood flow in the brain moves to the part of our brain that is reactive and quick acting. All of this is extremely beneficial to helping us survive or avoid the stress. However, many of us live in this Fight or Flight state all the time. Even when there is no stressor around! Sound familiar? When we take deep, relaxed breaths, we shift our nervous system away from the Fight or Flight response, and into the Relax, Rest, and Digest response. This allows our blood to flow to our vital organs, our heart rate to slow, and our blood to flow to the part of the brain that can make clear, rational decisions. In this state our body can heal. It’s no wonder that many of the world’s oldest civilizations all have breathing practices as part of their rich culture. So breathe deeply today and activate the healing power of the breath to work within you.