Why is deep breathing so important?

Deep breathing makes us stop and become present in the moment.

by Sheila Eastman — 

We all breathe every second of every day and think nothing of it. If you watch a baby breathe, you will see the stomach expand on the inhale, like a balloon blowing up, and inflate on the exhale. However, if you put your hand on your chest and stomach right now, you probably will not feel any movement at all. So what happens when we do not breathe as we did when we were born?

At a young age (around 3 to 5 years old), we stop breathing in that deep natural way. We begin to shallow breathe in our upper chest. As life continues to give us daily emotional stress, many of us even hold our breath when we should be breathing.

Over a period of time, if we do not reduce our emotional stress, our sympathetic nervous system becomes over-stimulated. This over-stimulation eventually leads to an imbalance that affects our overall health, resulting in inflammation, high blood pressure, heart issues, anxiety attacks, muscle tension, pain, headaches and many serious illnesses.

Learning how to breathe deeply again will bring us to a restorative state of being and fill us with natural effortless energy. Deep breathing makes us stop and become present in the moment. It calms the body and mind like a lullaby. It brings clarity, like the smell of fresh mountain air. With practice, we also will be able to clear out past emotional stress that could be preventing us from achieving our highest potential.

Mindful deep breathing can be done anywhere and at any time — in traffic, at a business meeting, when rocking your child, cooking dinner, sitting at a soccer game, etc. It is one of the best self-healing tools available.

So how do you begin? Stand or sit and pull up your ribcage for good posture; then put both hands on your abdomen around the navel. Now take a deep breath so that the stomach moves outward. Make sure the exhale through your mouth and nose is slow and controlled. It may be more comfortable to hold your tongue behind the top teeth. This may feel strange at the beginning, but with practice, deep natural breathing will return.

As a qigong practitioner, I teach dynamic qigong movement. It is a self-healing exercise that cultivates “chi” or life’s vital energy for utmost health, and it includes mindful posture, self-massage, meditation and, most importantly, full body breathing.

I challenge you to embrace the breath and notice the comfort, joy, pleasure and health it brings. After all, it is your birthright and is just waiting to be remembered.

 

Sheila Eastman is a qigong practitioner teaching in the Phoenix area and the creator of EZ Qigong Movements. She also is a Senior Fitness instructor, Tai Chi Easy and Brain Fitness facilitator who gives private sessions. www.ezqigongmovements.com.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 3, June/July 2012.

 

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