Why Proper Breathing Is Important For Good Health?

Proper breathing is important as breathing is a major body function which provides energy needs of an individual during the entire life time. Breathing is such an important process that the moment breathing ceases, life ends. Till we live, we take average of approximately 20,000 breaths in a day. Incorrect breathing technique has profound effect on your health and can effect your body's efficiency day after day. As an analogy, imagine the efficiency of a machine if it does not get optimum air for burning the fuel.

Importance of Proper Breathing

Your emotional health affects the way you breathe. Similarly, the way you breathe has an effect on your mind. With proper breathing, fluctuations of mind can be controlled thereby making the mind more relaxed and focused. Steadiness of mind and body interact and make a feedback loop to support each other.

Proper Breathing Techniques ensures more oxygen to the brain and other body organs of the body. Breathing is one of the ways to get rid of waste products and toxins from your body. Your energy level depends on your breathing rate and the depth of breathing. Therefore your breathing process needs to be optimised to provide more oxygen to your lungs from where it gets transported throughout the body by your blood.

What Can Be Wrong With Your Breathing?

Most of the persons are unaware of proper breathing techniques and their breathing is shallow and breathing rate is higher. This results in insufficient intake of oxygen required energy needs of your body. Poor breathing leads to loss of energy/ vitality which in turn increases your worries, increases anxiety, fatigue and stress levels. Prolonged poor breathing techniques also result in poor exercise for the muscles of lungs and the heart.

When a baby is born, nature guides the baby to breathe correctly in a completely relaxed manner. Over a period of time due to our upbringing, environment, sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise results in poor breathing techniques. For most of us, breathing is shallow and too quick.

Shallow breathing results in insufficient cellular respiration which means less oxygen to various organs resulting in diseases, poor immunity and susceptibility to diseases. Less oxygen to brain means reduced metal abilities, nervousness and irritable nature. This also leads to to reduced energy and vitality, since oxygen is essential for the production of energy in the body. Shallow breathing does not exercise the lungs enough, so they lose some of their function, causing a further reduction in vitality. Due to insufficient inhalation and exhalation, there is built up of toxins in the body.

Faster breathing rate strains our respiratory system causing more wear and tear of the organs involved in respiration. Most people use chest breathing rather than diaphragmatic breathing leading to shallow breathing. The oxygen reaches upper lobes of the lungs whereas most of the blood flow occurs in the part of lungs. In this case, the effort required for breathing is more as compared to the oxygen inhaled per breath.

Why We Need Better Breathing?

  • We are not trained in proper breathing techniques and most of us do not understand the importance of breathing.
  • We get so engrossed on our daily routine that we do not pay any attention to our breathing. We are not even aware of our breathing.
  • Emotions and anxiety also contribute to our shallow breathing. Stress affects breathing patterns. Stress, anxiety or poor emotional states resulting form fast modern living affects our nervous system, increases the breathing rate and breathing becomes shallow.
  • Incorrect breathing posture, lung problems, smoking and obesity are some of the reasons that restrict full expansion of the lung muscles. For example while working in office, not maintaining an erect seating posture diminishes lung capacity and makes way for chest breathing.
  • Sedentary lifestyle with no physical exercise is one of the reasons for decrease in breathing capacity. Remember, how fresh you feel after any exercise or playing a vigorous game.
  • In a polluted environment, body involuntarily inhales less air to avoid inhaling polluted air. People who are working indoors lack the energy giving properties of fresh unpolluted air. You can realise the importance of fresh air by doing breathing exercises in a lush green park early in the morning when there is maximum oxygen in the air.

Why Oxygen Is So Vital?

Oxygen is the most vital nutrient required for our bodies. It is essential for proper functioning of brain, nervous system and all internal organs. Brain is the heaviest consumer of oxygen and lack of sufficient oxygen impairs its function. Oxygen purifies the blood stream, and this purified blood is carried to all parts of our body. Improved blood circulation with yoga practice carries this blood to various body organs.

Try Pranayama For Better Breathing

The good news is that proper breathing techniques can be learned to improve our health and vitality. It just requires disciplined regular practice of yoga breathing. You can practice to inhale and exhale according to the principles involved in pranayama. Yoga breathing involves integrating of sound physical health, increased self awareness, correct breath control to prepare yourself for better health and it prepares your mind for meditation, the higher state of consciousness.

Incorrect breathing habits were formed over a period of time and it will require consistent efforts on your part to get out of these habits and acquire proper breathing habits. You must first assess your breathing habits and convince yourself that change is required and then work for the change. Better breathing will have a soothing effect on your mind and it will provide you a tool to modify your emotions and behaviour making you emotionally stable person. It will also help you to make a strong resolve for adopting correct breathing as part of your life.

With conscious effort and regular yoga breathing practice it is possible to train your body for proper breathing. Initially, start your yoga breathing practice with deep breathing for 10 to 15 minutes. Thereafter, practice a sequence of yoga breathing for 30 to 40 minutes, preferably in the morning. At all other times of the day try to be aware of your breathing and consciously try to do abdominal breathing. With regular pranayama practice, you will start breathing from your abdomen most of the time without any conscious effort on your part.

Check whether you are a chest breather or a abdominal breather? You can find out yourself about your breathing by a simple test. Lie down in shavasana and place your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your abdomen. Take a breath slowly and observe which hand raises more. If your right hand raises more, you are a chest breather. If your left hand raises more, you are an abdomen breather.

How Yoga Breathing/ Pranayam Is Different From Simple Deep Breathing?

  • Pranayama coupled with yoga asanas increase the effectiveness of yoga breathing.
  • In yoga breathing, there is a conscious effort to increase awareness, to control the wanderings of mind, to make your thought still which further improves the autonomic process of breathing.
  • Yoga breathing results in rhythmic process of inhalation and exhalation.
  • With pranayama we are able to bring positive changes in sympathetic nervous system which regulates blood pressure, digestion, breathing rate and heart rate.
  • Yoga breathing seeks to align our body to receive the abundant prana energy into our body and its distribution throughout the body. You must understand that there is difference between air we breathe and the life giving prana associated with it. This prana is part of our body, mind and soul. Every breath can be a thanks giving prayer to almighty for the life given to us. This will increase our awareness and help us to get rid of negative emotions in a better way.

It is worthwhile to try out yoga breathing for better health of mind and body and harmony in life. To get better results from yoga breathing, it will be preferable to strengthen your body with yoga asanas, take simple vegetarian diet, avoid smoking, take proper sleep and avoid stressful situations. Breathe in a conscious manner, be peaceful, be thankful to God and be receptive to receive prana energy. Adopting a healthy and active lifestyle with proper breathing is like saying cheers to a new life.

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