Let’s admit it, it is challenging to breathe in this cold weather and we Aussies are quite spoilt with sunshine all year round. So any sign of a cloudy day, or cooler weather gets us like we're backed up against a wall, frozen, having a stare off with a yeti. We detest the cold.
Besides our mental resistance to the cold, my heart goes out to those of us that suffer from poor immune systems, allergies, or have respiratory conditions that get aggravated especially at this time of the year.
While there are yoga kriyas, bronchodilators, antibiotics and ayurvedic treatments with herbal remedies that can de-congest you, there is still ONE thing YOU need to do to stay balanced and functional during these winter months and the course of life itself.
Since starting to write this blog, I realised that one blog alone is not enough real estate to list the relationship between Yoga and Breathing. So today, I want to explore just ONE thing; HOW SHOULD WE BE BREATHING?
Did you know that the 3 fundamental pillars of health and life force for us are: OXYGEN / BREATHING, SLEEP/RESTING and EATING/ NUTRITION ? We need all three to maintain the body’s homeostasis, that allows it to function and live life optimally. I could list some stats about the oxygen pressure required in our lungs to maintain blood alkalinity levels but you can look those stats up anywhere. Let's keep exploring the topic of knowing how to breathe.
So, when breathing is restrained / shallow, our cells and organs become oxygen starved and exposed to risks of disorders, which can come from these PATTERNS:
1. Increased breathing with chronically blocked nose and dry mouth
2. Urination increases (especially at night) to maintain ionic balance
3. Muscles become tense, tired, sore, possibly twitchy
4. Numbness, tingling and coldness in hand and feet
5. Increase in illness & infection due to decreased immune response
6. Stomach bloating, constipation, belching, diarrhoea, flatulence
7. Fast, erratic and pounding heart rate
8. Over reactive brain, possible anxiety, poor concentration, nervousness
So my next question is: Besides restrained breathing, do you notice any of the above symptoms?
My point is, you can see now how vital it is to prioritize learning to breathe. Yes as important as learning to eat the right foods and how to relax and recover.
So HOW SHOULD WE BE BREATHING?
Let's do a test to measure your personal breath rate by counting how many breaths you take per minute. 1 breath is = 1 inhale and 1 exhale.
Put a timer on for 30 seconds, count your breaths during this time and simply multiply the number of breaths taken for 30 seconds by 2. Voila, here is your breath rate per minute.
If you were not in a state of anxiety you should have about 8 breaths per minute and if you counted more than 10 breaths per minute it is likely you take shallow, short breaths and it is suggested you practice breathing exercises at least 3 times a day or if possible each hour on the hour for a few days.
From now on, if you notice that you’re breathing mainly from your chest rather than your abdomen or that you sigh too often then pause and practice breathing consciously for a few minutes to replenish oxygen into your bloodstream. In a few weeks you’ll notice your breath rate has decreased.
Breathing slowly and steadily improves the state of our mind, our body’s functions and energy levels. Its one of our body's fundamental functions and need, which is nurtured in a Yoga class. Breathing properly helps with healing any patterns of imbalance listed above and it is probably why a Yoga practice is THE GO TO for anyone suffering from restrained breath patterns.
I hope this article has touched on something of value to you. Please share your thoughts and feedback you might have with me. And of course if you are now feeling inspired to go take a Yoga class, drop by for a FREE Yoga Lesson all day on the 23rd June 2018 at our studio.