Do you ever find yourself holding your breath when you’re uptight or stressed or even for no apparent reason? Do you often feel lightheaded or like your brain is fuzzy after a long period of concentration on something important? We often don’t realise when we are really not breathing effectively and the problem with this is that it can have an ongoing negative effect on your wellbeing.
Breath is Life
Your breath is literally life-giving. If you are not breathing deeply (or not breathing at all for a short period) you are not taking life in! Let me be clear here, it is not a problem to occasionally hold your breath, and sometimes it is actually advisable – such as when you are going under water or when you walk past a smoker! Some activities such as target shooting and even yoga require you to hold your breath as a part of the practice – this is all okay! However, when you find yourself frequently holding your breath or taking short shallow breaths, this is when you have a problem!
Stop right now and focus on your breath! It is often only when you focus that you can slow down and regulate your breathing and check that you are really breathing deeply. When you take a true deep inhalation your whole belly should expand as the diaphragm contracts, extending the capacity of your thoracic cavity. Your shoulders should remain level. If you find that your shoulders and chest are moving more than your abdomen with your breath then you are actually breathing vertically and expending more energy just to breathe! Vertical breathing also means that your breath will not usually reach the lower areas of the lungs where the most aveoli (air sacs) are located. Short, vertical breathing is what tends to occur when we are stressed.
Deep breathing occurs naturally when we are relaxed and deliberately breathing long and deep can actually stimulate relaxation, because it activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Metaphysics of Breathing
If you have breathing issues of any kind, including respiratory illnesses, the metaphysical cause of this is fear or refusal to take in life fully. Or a feeling of being unworthy of taking up space. Remember that these underlying emotional causes of illness are not necessarily on the conscious level, and may even stem from an epigenetic factor ie. one of your ancestors had an experience that resulted in this emotion and it has been carried through your gene pool.
The lungs store sadness and fear and can also reflect restrictive negative emotions. If you feel unsafe, attacked or trapped, or suffocated emotionally then this can be reflected in the action of your lungs, resulting in shallow breathing or holding the breath. The lungs will react in the same way if they are repeatedly exposed to physical toxins, such as breathing in polluted air or chemicals.
What happens to the body when we don’t breathe effectively?
Holding your breath deprives your body of the required exchange of elements, disrupting natural biochemistry. This includes the inhalation of oxygen and the exhalation of carbon dioxide. Oxygen is necessary for your brain to function, (This is part of the reason why we yawn. The deep inhalation that occurs when you yawn gives an immediate oxygen boost to the brain). When your breath is short, inconsistent or repeatedly held your brain cells can only operate in survival mode – far below optimal levels! Along with oxygen we inhale nitric oxide which is key to immune and nervous system function.
The purpose of exhalation is to remove toxins from your body – including carbon dioxide. The more you hold your breath the more opportunity toxins have to disperse to storage areas in the body rather than being released. Breath holding usually occurs on an exhalation rather than an inhalation because we have millions of tonnes of air pressing down on us making inhalation automatic due to physics! Of course any build up of toxins will eventually result in dis-ease.
How can you improve your breathing?
There are several things that you can do to help improve the way you breathe and therefore increase your energy levels and reduce the build up of toxins and ensuing risk of illness.
Rock N Roll
In order to make sure that you are breathing horizontally rather than vertically take a seat on a chair or the floor. Inhale and lean forward so that your expanded stomach is in your lap, then exhale and slump into your seat, making the exhalation very long until all air is expelled. Repeat this 20 times.
This technique involves breathing out for twice as long as your inhalation. You need to count to do this effectively and this has the added benefit of forcing you to focus on your breath. Breathe in for a count of 2 or 3 and then breathe out for a count of 4 or 6 (whichever is double your inhalation). Gradually increase these numbers as you feel comfortable with deeper levels of breath.
Alternate nostril breathing ensures that you are breathing equally through both sides of your nose thus enhancing energetic balance. Hold one nostril shut with your thumb, placing your index and middle fingers at your 3rd eye chakra on your forehead, breathe in through the open nostril then shut it with your ring finger and remove your thumb to breathe out through the other nostril. Then breathe in through the same nostril then block it and breathe out through the other nostril. Repeat this 5-10 times, pausing between the inhale and exhale each time.
Take it to Heart
The Heart Chakra is the energy centre involved in breathing, indeed its element is Air. A balanced heart chakra will be of great benefit to deep and effective breathing. For further information about how you can balance your heart chakra you might like to look at my Heart Chakra Tips sheet. Reiki is fantastic for all energy balance and the wonderful thing about Reiki is that even if you don’t know or understand the underlying reasons for your breathing issues reiki will work on all energetic levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual – to bring about balance and allow you to heal these issues, either consciously or unconsciously.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like any further information about this or anything else! If you’re ready to breathe in all that life has to offer Book an appointment now.
This Blog does not constitute medical advice. Please seek advice from a doctor in regards to any ongoing breathing issues.