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Our Breathing Affects the Quality of Our Life
Saturday, 27 March 2021

Most have heard people comment during meditation, yoga and other exercise forms to concentrate on breathing. They seem to go on and on about it! The truth is breathing affects our body tremendously and if done correctly can be amazingly transformational. A lot of people do not even know that stress and anxiety affect breathing among many other factors.

The good news is people can be taught about the correct breathing technique although, babies and toddlers cannot blow their noses like the rest. Thankfully, baby nasal aspirator come to the rescue for infants.
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Let’s examine how breathing can have a transformative effect on our lives.

Relieve Stress and Anxiety

It might come as a surprise to some but breathing affects your mood. When people are relaxed the breathing is slow and even with deep breaths. On the contrary, when someone is stressed, they take shallower and quicker breaths. Rapid and shallow breathing is a result of the coping mechanism of the body when faced with a fight or flight situation.
On the other, deep breathing affects the parasympathetic nervous system by stimulating it and lowers the heart rate and relaxes the body. So, when one is anxious and stressed take deep breaths. Inhale deeply from the nose (to the count of 5) and exhale from the mouth.
Shallow breathing affects the diaphragm that is not completely exercised and prevents oxygen from properly circulating and permeating tissues of the body. Meditation, breathing exercises and yoga all involve deep belly breathing.

Improve the Quality of Sleep

Breathing affects sleep which is critical for humans. There are various sleep-related disorders caused by poor breathing. These include sleep apnea, insomnia and snoring etc. By improving the way, we breathe, most of these disorders can be treated successfully without any need for medical intervention. One of the most popular methods is using the method popularized by Dr Andrew Weil known as the 4-7-8 method. It fills up the lungs with oxygen, relaxes the mind and body and alleviates stress.
When in bed, exhale totally from the mouth with a whoosh sound. Then inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, while keeping the mouth closed. Hold your breath within 7 seconds and later exhale for 8 seconds through the mouth with a whoosh sound. Simple but very effective!

Breathing Affects Digestion

The human body needs oxygen to create energy and any lack of oxygen can lead to discomfort. The stomach is one such area where lack of oxygen can cause bloating and cramps.
Considering the quantity of processed foods humans consume in their daily diet, flatulence, stomach discomfort, constipation and boating etc. are normal. The problem arises when one needs to refer to a specialist to resolve them because it is impacting the quality of life. Apart from the treatment, other things can be done to improve the health of the gut.
Breathing can have a positive impact on one’s gut health. Few people correlate the two, but breathing affects digestion that is responsible for our gut health. Since breathing affects metabolism, working on one’s breathing technique will help to improve the digestive system that will positively impact the gut.
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The Link Between Poor Gut Health and Stress

A well-known fact is that stress leads to a host of medical ailments. From migraines to asthma, stress can exacerbate a variety of medical conditions. When we are in a stressful situation or any kind of emergency, the tightness in the chest and anxiety that accompanies it leads to shallow breathing. And poor breathing directly impacts the digestive system.
Shallow breaths happen when there is an adrenaline rush in a stressful situation like an emergency or danger of any kind. Since the pace of breathing quickens it draws more oxygen to the muscular system to run or attack, which deprives the flow of oxygenated blood to other areas including the digestive system.
So excessive stress will hamper the smooth functioning of the digestive system and increase the risk of inflammation. Since the immune system is negatively affected it raises the risk of disease and infections.
Deep breathing can work wonders by increasing the flow of blood to all the organs including the digestive system thus improving metabolism. It lowers acidity levels (caused by stress) that lowers inflammation. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.

Breathing Affects the Brain

Medical research has shown that areas of the brain that are linked to awareness, attention and emotions are directly impacted by the way we breathe.
There is an increase in activity between the neurons of the brain network that include the amygdala when an individual takes quick shallow breaths. The activity seen in the amygdala indicates that rapid breathing could act as a stimulus giving rise to feelings of fear, anger and anxiety. Further research has proved that humans tend to be fearful when their breathing becomes rapid. Alternatively, fear and anxiety can be diminished by regulating breathing.
When those participating in the experiments controlled their breathing correctly, the areas of the brain corresponding to awareness became active. Thus, studies have shown that the way we breathe activates areas of the brain related to feelings, thinking and behavior.
In short, tracking one’s breathing by focusing on it and doing it correctly can help to alleviate anxiety and manage stress. It leads to greater self-awareness.

Ways to Practice Abdominal Breathing

Lie down or sit comfortably and place a hand on the stomach and the other on the chest.
Inhale through the nose for a few seconds (3-4) and let the air enter the stomach. The hand on the stomach will rise while there will hardly be any discernible chest movement.
Then exhale through the mouth with a whooshing sound for a few seconds as the stomach deflates.
Do the process for 10-15 minutes.
Breathing correctly can be a life-changer, so if you want to live a healthier and happier life change the way you breathe! Please feel share your views/comments in the section below as to how changing your breathing technique has positively impacted your life.

Author Bio:

Thomas Nemel is a staunch advocate of health and wellness and mindful living. An outdoorsy kind of person, rambling and trekking make him tick. A proponent of abdominal breathing, he swears by its benefits!
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