|Breathing: The Importance of Oxygen
Oxygen plays a vital role in the circulatory and respiratory systems. As we
breathe, oxygen that is inhaled purifies our blood by removing poisonous waste
products circulating throughout our blood systems. Irregular breathing will
hamper this purification process and cause waste products to remain in
circulation. Digestion will then become irregular, leaving tissues and organs
undernourished. Improper oxygen consumption will thus ultimately lead to fatigue
and heightened anxiety states. The irregular breathing elicited during stressful
situations not only makes the situations hard to cope with but also contributes to a general
deterioration of health. By the careful control of our breathing pattern, we may
not only rejuvenate our systems but also counter the unhealthy effects of
The Impact of Deep Breathing on Our Health
Deep breathing can have a powerful influence on our health. To understand how
this is possible, we need to remember that the diaphragm is attached all around
the lower ribcage and has strands going down to the lumbar vertebrae. When our
breathing is full and deep, the diaphragm moves through its entire range
downward to massage the liver, stomach, and other organs and tissues below it,
and upward to massage the heart. When our breathing is full and deep, the belly,
lower ribcage, and lower back all expand on inhalation, thus drawing the
diaphragm down deeper into the abdomen, and retracts on exhalation, allowing the
diaphragm to move fully upward toward the heart. In deep, abdominal breathing,
the downward and upward movements of the diaphragm, combined with the outward
and inward movements of the belly, ribcage, and lower back, help to massage and
detoxify our inner organs, promote blood flow and peristalsis, and pump the
lymph more efficiently through our lymphatic system. The lymphatic system, which
is an important part of our immune system, has no pump other than muscular
movements, including the movements of breathing.
The "Breath of Health" Necklace
The necklace has 60 beads of the same size. It is divided into two halves,
with 30 beads on each side of dividers. One divider is placed on the end where
the necklace is tied and the other is placed midway.
*Click on image to see larger view
The beads are used to count breaths (one breath equals
one inhale and one exhale). The dividers are used as references. The counting is
one bead for each breath.
At the start of each session make note of the time. By keeping track of the
time and the number of beads you moved through during a session you can
calculate the number of breaths per minute. Normal breathing is shallow and
about 18 to 20 breaths per minute. Deep abdominal breathing will reduce the
number of breaths per minute and increase the oxygen throughout your system. So
if you build up to being able to take two breaths of air each minute you would
be circling the necklace in 30 minutes.
*Click to view and print larger
To begin counting, start by placing your thumb on the first bead next to the
divider at the top of the necklace .
Take in a breath, slowly filling up the lower lungs allowing your stomach to
expand to its fullest. Then slowly breath out all the air while retracting your
stomach. This is a count of one. As you begin your next breath move your thumb
to the second bead and hold it there until after you exhale.
This is count two. As you begin to inhale again move your thumb to the third
bead. Continue this method until you are finished with the session. The session
could last a certain number of minutes or the complete loop of the necklace or
longer depending on the available time you have when you start the session.
Methods of tracking progress:
By keeping track of the number of beads
(breaths) and the time, you will be able to see your progress towards slower and
deeper diaphragmic breathing.
By just keeping track of the number of beads you
will be able to keep
track of the number of diaphragmic breaths you complete when you to
practice this type of breathing exercise. The goal here would be to increase the
number of breaths per session.
After regular sessions for several months you will start to breath deeper
even when not exercising.
Meditation and controlled breathing go hand-in-hand. You can also exercise
controlled breathing without the necessary setting for meditation. You can do
controlled breathing while waiting in a line for purchasing an item, while
walking, sitting, watching television, or just before you close your eyes to
The problem with practicing controlled breathing is to remember to practice
during times of opportunity. You can remember to practice more if you have a
"symbol of practice", e.g. a necklace, bracelet or some other object.
So keep the necklace visible, a reminder to breath slow and deep, like
on your coffee table or work desk when you are not actively using it.
When you are watching TV, before or after a meal, when taking a
break from reading a book, or just sitting quietly you can take a few minutes
and exercise diaphragmic breathing.
I have practiced this exercise with the necklace for several years. My normal
breathing is much slower and deeper and I feel I am a more relaxed person. And I
do believe my thinking is more clear because of the increase oxygen to my brain.
By using the necklace I am able to keep exercising longer. Without the
necklace, I tend to forget what I am doing and go back to normal breathing in a
relaxed "zone" because of the relaxing effect of deep breathing . But with the
necklace in hand I can maintain focus longer and benefit more.
Remember: Feed your brain and body with a balanced diet and plenty of air.