Why Breath should be your best friend

The importance of breathing

Our lives start with an inhale and end with an exhale. Breathing is a vital function that marks the start and end points of our lives. You can live for weeks without food and for days without water, but you can live for only minutes without breathing. It therefore stands to reason that breathing is the most immediate and powerful self-healing cure we have. It is at once so profound, so subconscious and so crucial to our very existence yet we barely use it to our advantage.

Breathing techniques for stress

Stress is at the root of so many of our common ailments. Under chronic stress, the body loses its ability to regulate the inflammatory response. Inflammation is increasingly being linked to all the major diseases of our time.

We’re told not to get stressed but no one seems to know what to do to combat the problem. Breath is THE antidote to stress. Why is breathing deeply so important? Microforms (such as bacteria and fungi) cause acidity in the body – and they love anaerobic environments (those without oxygen). If you oxygenate yourself sufficiently, it becomes harder for acidity to thrive.

Proper breathing techniques can directly reduce the inflammation levels in your body. How? An anti-inflammatory neural control called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve can be controlled with, amongst other things, conscious breathing. Take a moment and pay attention to your breath. You are almost certainly not breathing deeply, right down into your diaphragm. Whilst it’s the default for most of us, by shallow breathing we are really missing a trick. Actually, several tricks!

Deep abdominal breathing can neutralise the pH balance and promotes a relaxed state, whereas shallow and superficial breathing can lead to an acidic pH balance and stress in the body.2 It’s a major cause of low vitality and insufficient metabolism, as breathing controls cellular respiration.

Chinese wisdom places huge importance on breathing because it is one of the two major ways we create quality Qi and blood (the other being food).

An antidote to chronic stress

The simple practice of deep breathing is an easy and effective antidote to chronic stress, one that requires neither drugs nor doctors. The Chinese practise sitting in stillness and silence for a while and breathing deep into the abdomen. This automatically switches the nervous system over from the active Yang phase to the calming, restorative Yin phase. Our Rescue Breath Ritual embraces precisely this process.

Deep abdominal breathing should lead to a more alkaline pH and relaxed state. Done slowly and mindfully, deep breathing will also affect the nervous system to relieve stress and anxiety. It works by triggering the release of neurohormones, which inhibit stress-producing hormones and result in a relaxation response in the body.3

So simple and so beneficial, yet we can’t seem to remember to do it. This is why I’ve created our Rescue Breath Ritual for you to do every time you are in the shower or the bath – because by attaching it to something you (hopefully) do on a daily basis you’ve got half a chance of doing it. Spending a little time concentrating on your breathing every day should have an instant and cumulative impact on your stress levels and overall health.

Doing these exercises regularly is the single most important measure you can take on a daily basis to safeguard your health. The gold standard is making them part of your daily shower, but you can also attach them to a regular activity, like every time you boil the kettle or before making a phone call. Once you’ve got into the habit, I promise they will become an effortless part of your life!

Supporting studies and further reading

(1) Microforms (such as bacteria and fungi) cause acidity in the body – and they love anaerobic environments (those without oxygen). If you oxygenate yourself sufficiently, it becomes harder for acidity to thrive.
Dr Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young, The PH Miracle, Piatkus Publishing

(2) Deep abdominal breathing can neutralise the pH balance and promotes a relaxed state, whereas shallow and superficial breathing can lead to an acidic pH balance and stress in the body.
Dr Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young, The PH Miracle, Piatkus Publishing

(3) Deep abdominal breathing should lead to a more alkaline pH and relaxed state. Done slowly and mindfully, deep breathing will also affect the nervous system to relieve stress and anxiety. It works by triggering the release of neurohormones, which inhibit stress-producing hormones and result in a relaxation response in the body.
Dr Robert O. Young and Shelley Redford Young, The PH Miracle, Piatkus Publishing

Breathing Study

Assessment of the Effects of Pranayama/Alternate Nostril Breathing on the Parasympathetic Nervous System in Young Adults.

Anant Narayan Sinha – Published 2013 in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3681046/

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