Oxygen, Your Life Force

Breathe DEEPLY

Every cell in our body needs oxygen, especially your brain, even more so when we exercise. Most people are only aware of “everyday breathing”, something we don’t even think about. When you start a breath training program, you are simply becoming more aware of your breathing. When you are mentally “watching” your breath come into your lungs and go out of your lungs, it is very easy to feel like you are not getting enough air. Don’t panic, your body and mind will take over! Our mind is in charge of this automatic life function, so there is no danger that we will screw it up. The feeling that you are not getting enough air is very normal. You need to simply focus, in your mind, on seeing your breath being complete, sustaining, and picturing the rich oxygen entering your lungs and spreading throughout your body, and the toxins from your body going out with every exhale.

With practice it becomes easy, and there are numerous benefits. One of those is that it is easier for you to calm yourself by “just taking a breath” and visualizing the whole breathing cycle.

Use your lungs!

Most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity. One of the reasons for this is because breathing is an unconscious function of our amazing body system, like our heartbeat, we don’t have to think about it. Another reason is that we simply don’t use a lot of oxygen since your average person in not overly active.

When you become conscious of your breath, and practice filling your lungs, and emptying them as in yogic breathing, and other alternative exercises, you start to notice some interesting things happening;

• You think more clearly;

• You feel more relaxed and calm (how many times have you heard: “just take a deep breath and relax, everything will be ok?);

• You feel very “centered” within your body (which is amazing!); and,

Different types of breathing: Aerobic Breathing

When you are exercising hard, doing aerobics, running, using a treadmill, an elliptical machine, or other exercise equipment, you are breathing in a way that is called aerobic breathing. This type of breathing is an incredible energy boost, and the side effects on your mood are dramatic as every cell is filled with oxygen.

Endorphins, endorphins, endorphins, your mood improves, you feel GREAT! It is one of the amazing things about how we are set up as human beings. Just through this type of exercising and breathing, our minds are clear, we are more positive, and more energized on every level of our being.

If you bring that calmness and clarity into an intense everyday situation, like where there is an emergency, you are not only energized, but able to tap into areas of decision making and strength that you would not normally have access to. Great examples of this are the stories we have all heard where a car either falls on a person when the jack fails, or a child is under the car. The person seeing this, (and interestingly it is usually a woman!) actually LIFTS the car, allowing the person to escape! Can you imagine if we could tap into this type of energy at will? I will talk a bit more about this type of energy, and our ability to tap it in the alternative exercise section of this site.

Relaxation Breathing

One form of this is the deep breath and sigh as you exhale. It is a release for your whole body and spirit. It calms you, reduces stress, and allows energy to enter. You do this type of breath every day; when your child has a problem that you don’t have time for; deep breath, sigh, get it done; when you are stuck in traffic; deep breath, sigh, move along with everyone else in the same traffic; you don’t get the sale, someone else does, deep breath, sigh, your mind goes to work to avoid the same situation in the future. This type of breathing, when you do it consciously, has many positive effects on every part of your body and mind. I think the tools we have been given to move through this life are incredible—if we see and use them. Think about it: just by being aware of your breath, you can create more energy, relaxation, meditation, a higher connection with your spiritual beliefs. You can also create an overall improvement in your quality of life—and more importantly, and improvement in the quality of life for those close to you.

Yoga Breathing

The “Breath of fire”

This is a type of yogic breathing that will energize your entire body and mind. You do this breath exercise by breathing very rapidly through your nose, kind of like “sniffing” in and out. There are different versions of this, in one, you have your arms straight out from your shoulders, bent at the elbows, and your palm open with your first finger and thumb tips touching. You should be sitting down, and only do this for a short period of time until you become used to the euphoria and energy boost associated with this breathing method. It is a great way to re-focus and energize when you start to lose your mental momentum. You totally fill your whole system with oxygen. For women, this type of breathing is similar to the rapid breathing during childbirth, except this type is done primarily through the nose.

The Three Part Breath

This is a relaxing, and at the same time, energizing exercise breath done in yoga practice. It is very cleansing for your lungs and strengthens your abdomen, diaphragm and lungs. Your rib cage expands as you pull the breath in, and the more you do this breathing exercise, the more you increase your lung capacity, and the more oxygen you add to your system. This type of breathing is especially important for women who were brought up in a society where beliefs about sexuality have constricted the chest and lung area, or, where low self esteem during teenage years has developed into a pattern of slumping over. Seniors, or those who are in their 40’s and older, should practice this on a daily basis since the benefits are so great.

How To Do the Three Part Breath

• Lie comfortably on your back, arms at your side;

• Place your hands on your upper chest;

• Slowly breathe in to your upper chest, keeping your abdomen flat;

• As you feel that area getting “tight”, slide your hands to the lower edge of your ribcage;

• Continue to inhale, expanding the lower part of your ribcage, and at the same time, your lower lungs;

• Slide your hands onto your abdomen, and feel it expand as you breathe into it, expanding your diaphragm downward, totally filling your lungs;

• Reverse the whole procedure, starting with flattening your abdomen, then lower ribcage, then upper chest.

This can be a little stressful in the beginning, just do the best you can, it doesn’t need to be perfect. Just continue to practice and you will notice changes not only in your ability to do the complete breath, but in your energy, concentration, and peace of mind. You can also reverse the process, starting with your diaphragm, and working your way upwards.

As you continue with this exercise, if you place your hands on your rib cage, you can actually feel the chest cavity becoming more flexible. This is not only important for your lungs and diaphragm, but for your heart as well. When you have a constricted chest area, with shoulders rolled forward, rounded back, etc., you are also decreasing the area for your heart to physically function. Whether or not this affects circulation is a matter of speculation, but in my mind, it not only restricts circulation, and puts more pressure and strain on the heart, but also affects a person’s openness to others, including being open to their mates, giving freely, and being open to energy. See spiritual health and wellness for more on this.

The Breath Of Life

To summarize, the more you work with your breath and exercise, the more you improve your health. Not just your general health, but every single cell in your body from your toes to your brain. Blood pressure is reduced, breathing is deeper and slower, you have fewer toxins in your body. The benefits are substantial.. Your brain is especially favorably affected. In the section of this site on disease prevention and also, alternatives to drugs, you will find some compelling information about some of the drugs that people take routinely that have a negative effect on your overall health, in most cases, your brain is the organ that is affected the most. You only have one of those, no transplants are available, it is up to you to take care of it.

How Important IS Oxygen?

We have all heard of people who have had heart attacks, strokes, or someone who drowned, and had to be resuscitated, or went into respiratory arrest. All of these traumatic episodes have one thing in common: a cutting off of the blood supply, especially oxygen, to the brain. Within a very short period of time, minutes, cells begin to die. If the oxygen is cut off for too long, there is brain damage, which is in part, dead cells. You will never be the same.

You can compare this to your personal computer crashing (mine did last week!). When that happens, you can not only lose critical information, but you can damage “your hard drive” so that your systems will no longer work efficiently. It is a similar situation with our brain; we lose critical information, and our systems can no longer operate efficiently. The big difference is we can replace our computer hard drive, and even though we lose some information, pretty soon we are back to normal. With our brain, that is not the case. A “system crash” with our brain can change everything we take for granted, even talking, walking, balance, muscle control, everything. Even some environmental factors can affect how your brain functions.

See the Healthy Home Tour section of this site for more information, and to take a free tour to see how safe your home is.

So, we are responsible, no one else. It is up to us to do what we can to take care of what we have, and, to help others when there is a need. It is amazing when you are involved in an emergency situation and you are prepared to save lives. There are different areas of knowledge available to everyone, and basic first aid procedures that everyone should know---even, or especially your babysitter. What if you left your child in the care of a babysitter who didn’t know what to do if your child was choking, or stopped breathing? Basic first aid is critical.

One is a technique called C.P.R. or Cardio (heart) Pulmonary (breathing) Resuscitation (restarting). It is a technique that’s easy to learn, can be used on everyone from babies to senior citizens, and should be on your short list of things to learn. What if you saved one life? What if that one life was a member of your family? How would you feel? Just about every fire department in every town has a CPR and first aid program that you can hook up with. Make it a priority, learn something new, especially if you have children or seniors living in your home. Be sure your regular babysitter or child care provider knows C.P.R., it could make the difference between life and death.

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