“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace” Source Unknown
Most of us are not aware how we breathe or how much of an impact our breathing patterns can have on our health. So long as we are breathing surely that’s the important part right? Wrong! How we breathe affects many physical and emotional responses in the body. So let’s take a look at this most basic survival function of the body.
EFFECTIVE BREATHING ensures there is an optimal intake of oxygen and output of carbon dioxide. If the balance between these gases is upset our body will try to make compensations to try to restore the balance. Sometimes however these compensations (upper chest breathing, shallow rapid breathing, sighing, mouth breathing) are not always efficient and over time become bad habits. One of the most significant effects of poor breathing is the effect that it has on the smooth muscle in the body. Smooth muscle is found in the walls of blood vessels and all organs (heart, stomach, intestines, bladder etc) throughout the body. With habitual poor breathing this smooth muscles contracts causing blood vessels to spasm, keeping blood pressure high and reducing blood flow to the brain and other body parts. This can exhibit as:
- Breathing difficulty
- Increased breathing pattern with chronically blocked nose and dry mouth
- Urination increases (especially at night) to maintain ionic balance
- Muscles becoming tense, tired, sore, possibly twitchy
- Numbness, tingling and coldness in hand and feet
- Increase in illness & infection due to decreased immune response
- Stomach bloating, constipation, belching, diarrhoea, flatulence
- Fast, erratic and pounding heart rate
- Over reactive brain, possible anxiety, poor concentration, nervousness
If any of the above are familiar to you your breathing needs attention. Part 2 will look at how to breathe effectively but in the meantime consider this: Our breathing is often compromised with poor sitting postures. Imagine sitting at your desk all day… inevitably you will end up slumping in your chair, effectively squashing the abdominal area and making it harder to breathe to here, hence, upper chest, shallow breathing becomes the habit. Poor posture and poor breathing go hand in hand. So, regularly check yourself (every 20 mins), reposition yourself in your chair, open up your chest and shoulders and BREATHE.