Understanding the Art of Breathing

Normal respiration rate for adults is considered 12-20 breaths per minute at rest.  As you breathe, your lungs contract and expand to dispel carbon dioxide and bring in oxygen.  As you breathe in, the oxygen fills the many air sacs and diffuses through the membrane into the pulmonary capillaries.  As you exhale, the carbon dioxide leaves the bloodstream and enters the air sac replacing the oxygen you inhaled. The purpose of breathing is to keep the oxygen level high so that your body functions correctly. Most people breathe shallowly not completely filling their lungs with oxygen, and some wear clothing that is too tight which restricts breathing.

When the oxygen saturation level drops below 90%, the respiratory center increases the rate and depth of breathing.  Normal saturation levels are considered to be 95% – 100%.  Levels below 90% are considered low, and the lower the level the more difficulty you have in breathing.
Chemical irritants are unwanted substances in the airways, such as dust, pollen, water, cigarette smoke and other noxious fumes signal the respiratory center to contract causing you to sneeze or cough.  This rapid, violent displacement of the air in the lungs sometimes removes the offending substance.

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Some diseases also affect the proper functioning of the lungs, such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis etc. These types of conditions make it much harder for your lungs to work.  Other conditions can actually damage the lung’s ability to exchange oxygen for the carbon dioxide, such as pulmonary edema, cystic fibrosis, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

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Now,let’s find out if we are breathing correctly:

Sit on a chair/stool, preferably cross-legged on floor.
Close your eyes throughout the process.
Gently place your hands one over the other on your abdomen.
Now take a few deep breaths. Gently inhale and exhale. Keep your mouth closed.
Find your breath – your breathing should be deep but gentle and through the nose.
Now observe your inhalation – does your abdomen go in or come out? If you can’t    feel it, press your abdomen a little harder with your hands.
If with every inhalation, your abdomen is going inwards (falling in) you are breathing incorrectly.
The correct way to breathe is: with every inhalation, your abdomen should come out (rise) and with every exhalation, it should go in (fall).

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Five benefits of proper breathing

Detoxification.Carbon dioxide which has already passed through the bloodstream and the lungs is released whenever air is exhaled from the body.During deep exhalation from the lungs,lung capacity increases thereby allowing in more oxygen.

  Oxygenation. The presence of oxygen in the brain increases blood flow to muscles. When oxygen travels in the bloodstream, hemoglobin is attached to the red blood cells and then results to metabolize the vitamins and nutrients needed to enrich the body.

Organ massage.  Proper breathing promotes circulation in different organs and makes abdominal muscles stronger and more toned. When one inhales, the diaphragm moves down and the abdomen is expanded. Inhaling also massages the heart and the intestines.

Body system support. Proper breathing supports the different functions of various body systems such as circulatory, respiratory, digestive and hormonal.Breathing techniques promote and balance out metabolic rate every day. Body weight is also kept in check with correct breathing techniques.

Improving posture. Correcting body posture earlier has several other benefits aside from correct breathing.Once you master the art of proper breathing throughout the day,you will be able be correct your body posture

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Now let’s correct our breathing:

Don’t be disheartened if you find out you breathe incorrectly.
With conscious effort, you can correct your breathing in just 10 days.
Every time you breathe in, your abdomen should come out (rise) and with every exhalation, your abdomen should go in (fall).
If you can’t figure it out, lie down on a flat surface and place anything solid on your abdomen. Now observe if your abdomen rises with every inhalation.
With every breath of your waking moment, consciously breathe in air and inflate your abdominal balloon. Never use your mouth to breathe.
Concentrate! Put your mind to it and breathe by the balloon analogy.

Get Going!Happy Breathing!

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