Let’s Talk: Deep Breathing
Why has deep breathing become a hot topic in recent years? Because it actually works.
It’s amazing how many of us are living a high stress lifestyle (c’mon American dream), and don’t realize the effects that it has on our bodies. The good news is that our bodies have natural ways to sustain and heal that we can utilize for our overall health. One way is through our breath.
What is deep breathing?
Deep breathing (sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing) is an intentional practice that enables more air to flow into your body. It is also the fastest way to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which naturally relaxes your body and mind. Stress is at the core of most diseases and is commonly accompanied with shallow breathing. When we breathe shallowly, the body doesn’t receive as much oxygen as it needs and it makes our muscles constrict. This also triggers our sympathetic nervous system which sends out spikes of cortisol and adrenaline. It is our parasympathetic nervous system which counteracts this and breath is the fastest way for these two systems to communicate. Our bodies truly are amazing.
Benefits of deep breathing
Now that we know that breath is a communication system in our bodies, let’s look at just a few benefits of deep breathing.
First of all, deep breathing is actually one of the most effective ways to detox your body! Our bodies are designed to detox 70% of toxins through our breath alone. Taking a few moments to do some deep breathing can make the biggest difference because shallow breathing can actually inhibit this detoxification process and cause our other organs to work extra hard to detox in other ways.
We talk about the lymphatic system a lot around here because of how important it is to our overall health. Well, one of the easiest ways to stimulates the lymphatic system is through deep breathing. In fact, our lymphatic system relies on our breathing to get it moving. The blood pumps oxygen and nutrients to the cells and once they absorb what they need they excrete their waste back out into the sea of lymphatic fluid that our cells constantly swim in. The lymph fluid is responsible for ridding the body of the debris the cells excrete and also dead cells and other waste. As our breathing is what moves the lymph, breathing shallowly can lead to a sluggish lymphatic system which is not detoxifying properly. Deep breathing will help get that lymph flowing properly so your body can work more efficiently.
One of my favorite facts is that deep breathing actually relieves pain. Studies have shown that when we feel pain our instant reaction is to hold our breath. Remember that breathing deeply and breathing into pain will help to release it. Deep breathing releases endorphins which are the body’s natural feel good pain killers.
Breathe deep! It’s not hype, it’s an incredible tool. Take a moment right now to do some deep breathing There are many ways to do this, but try out the method below for instant relief.
- Breathe out slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
- Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head
- Hold your breath for a count of four.
- Exhale for another count of four.
- Hold your breath again for a count of four.
- Repeat for three to four rounds.