Breathing. It’s a pretty necessary thing, right?
“Well, yeah. Without it, we sort of… you know, DIE! So, what? We all do it.”
And it doesn’t take any thought on our part. Our body just naturally does it. Pretty miraculous, I’d say.
“Your point being?”
Because we don’t put much thought into it, we don’t really determine the quality of the breaths we take.
“And that’s a problem because…???”
Because our breathing is run on autopilot, it can be susceptible to unconscious programming. Habits.
For instance, I wrote about anxiety addiction yesterday. When we become anxious, the “fight or flight” response kicks in and our breathing becomes shallow. When anxiety becomes chronic, we hardly ever get a deep breath.
A Routine Check-Up
When I was still in my late-30’s I recall my doctor ran a standard round of blood-tests. One thing he asked me as we were going over the results together was, “do you smoke?”
I replied that I haven’t smoked a day in my life, “why?”
It turned out that my blood was thick in a way that he’d only seen in the blood of his patients that smoke. Wow!
Still, at the time, I didn’t think much about it. As I pondered on it more, though, I realized it could very well have something to do with the way I was breathing.
More times than not, when I’m breathing in a normal, unconscious manner, I breathe shallowly. Part and parcel to the whole “fight or flight” response due to anxiety.
But, shallow breathing can cause more than just a thickening of the blood.
Dr. Sarah Brewer, a registered doctor, registered nutritionist, registered nutritional therapist and the author of over 60 popular health books, who writes on mylowerbloodpressure.com has noted the correlation between poor breathing and high blood pressure.
“Often we take breathing for granted as it happens automatically with little effort or thought on your part. Yet poor breathing habits such as deep sighs, gasps, breath-holding or taking rapid, shallow breaths are common, and can contribute to high blood pressure.
“Just taking time to inhale deeply can lower your blood pressure in less than a minute, whether or not you are on antihypertensive treatment.”
Dr Brewer also states, “Deep breathing is one of the most effective natural remedies for high blood pressure. It’s easy to do, anywhere, and it’s free.”
Conscious Deep Breathing
In the post: Just Breathe: How to Use Breathing Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure the University Health News staff shares a relative easy, but effective breathing technique.
- Close your eyes and sit up straight
- Take a deep breath while you count to five, then count to five again as you exhale.
- Do this for six breaths.
Here’s what happens when you do easy breathing exercises:
*First, you begin to calm your sympathetic nervous system and your fight-or-flight response, which lowers feelings of stress.
*You also begin to increase blood flow to your body’s tissues, which reduces resistance in your blood vessels and increases your exercise tolerance.
*Your diaphragm moves up and down, which facilitates blood flow towards the heart.
Because of all of that, you start to lower your blood pressure.
A Place to Breathe
I’m blessed! Here, in our town, we have “an alternative and holistic health service center” called Beautiful Mind. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Mona, the owner, offers what she calls “A Place to Breathe”. It’s a service that she offers to our community for little more than a “love donation”, and it is through this program that I’ve learned many different ways to breathe.
Am I still sometimes challenged by anxiety? Unfortunately, yes. (Hey! 30+ years of programming, may take a bit of time to undo.) Have I lowered my blood pressure yet? Not yet, and if I have, it hasn’t been naturally. BUT, I did read through the post I shared with you from the UHN Staff, and the conclusion I’ve come to is… I need to do breathing exercises daily, rather than just 30 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe then, I’ll see more marked results.
A Guide on Breathing
[EDITED ON 6/26/19]
This post was originally published in April of this year as part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Unfortunately, I failed to complete that challenge, but the post itself did succeed in gaining the attention of some people. Among them was Ms Kelli Gardener at Groom + Style, an “Online Magazine with Fashion, Style and Luxury at its Heart”.
Recently, I received an email from Kelli which brought to my attention the guide on breathing techniques she has written. Breathing Techniques: A Guide to the Science and Methods.
Given the challenges that I have experienced with healthy breathing, I’m finding this guide to be very informative. I’m truly grateful that she reached out to me because it also gives me the opportunity to share with you!
Carbon Dioxide and Your Body
Did you know that some Carbon Dioxide is actually good for your body? If I knew this at some point, I had forgotten until I did a read through Kelli’s guide.
Our bodies require a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This means that we can also run into problems when our carbon dioxide levels are too low. Proper breathing techniques help us to maintain a proper balance.Kelli Gardener, Breathing Techniques: A Guide to the Science and Methods
There is even a test that was developed by Dr. Buteyko, the creator of the Buteyko Breathing Method, that will determine the level of tolerance your body has to Carbon Dioxide. The guide shares the how-to’s.
It’s super simple!
I did it, and am happy to say that while my body is not “in peak condition”, I only have a “minor breathing impairment”. It can be improved upon, of course! Which leads me to…
In her guide, Kelli also shares information about the various breathing techniques out there. (ie what conditions each assists, how to perform the technique, etc)
Among those shared are:
- 365 Breathing Method
- 4-7-8 Breathing Method
- Ayurvedic and Pranayama Breathing Techniques
- Box Breathing
- Buteyko Breathing Method
- Qi Breathing
If you’ve not yet popped over there to check the guide out for yourself, I highly recommend it!
Maybe it will help you to breathe easier too.
Until next time, my dear friend, may you breathe deeply.
This month I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Want to join me and all the other participants? Sign up today! Registration closes April 6th. Not sure what the A to Z Blogging Challenge is? Check it out!
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