Benefits of Controlling your Breath
"The stresses, strains, and traumas of ordinary daily existence in the process of working and living tend to inhibit our breathing ability." – Leonard Orr -
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You’ve doubtless heard the expression “just take a deep breath”. It actually pops up in a number of situations, from when we’re angry to when we’re upset to when we’re under stress and it can often do a lot of good in any and indeed all of them. The air we breathe is fuel for our bodies and our minds just as much as food and drink are. The act of breathing is what manages that fuel intake and hence while the basic action is pretty much the same in any situation, as so often in life, the details can make a world of difference to the results. Here are 3 ways to improve your breathing and the benefits they bring.
Clean up your environment as much as you can.
Places of work vary in how much control employees have over their working area, but if you have options open to you such as bringing in a plant or using a Himalayan salt lamp, then make the most of them. You’ll probably have to use a battery operated lamp as workplaces often have issues with devices being plugged into the mains. At home think about the quality of the air you are going to breathe when you do your shopping so, for example, try switching out chemical room fragrances for natural alternatives. If you live with a smoker or have smokers as guests, then put health over hospitality and banish cigarettes (including e-cigarettes) to the outdoors.
Clean up your own airways
If you smoke you probably already know it’s bad for you, but if giving up really isn’t an option just now, then consider changing to a vaporizer. For everybody else, give your airways a good clean with the help of steam. There are a couple of easy ways to do this around the home. One is the standard cold treatment of holding your head over a bowl of steaming water (ideally covered by a towel), although this is not necessarily comfortable. The other is the standard domestic bath or shower. For a real deep cleanse, however, best results come from a proper steam bath. This is essentially a sauna with the addition of steam, which has many benefits to the body as a whole. In terms of the respiratory system, it literally gets into the smallest parts and carries out any dirt and toxins. Steam baths are particularly beneficial for anyone with respiratory conditions from seasonal allergies to illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis.
Improve your breathing technique
Breathing is a bit like posture, it’s often taken for granted until someone points out the issues we have and suggests changes which can make a huge difference to our lives. Just as learning correct posture can relieve pain in the neck, shoulders and back, so learning Buteyko breathing can help relieve conditions such as anxiety and stress, insomnia and sleep apnea. As its name suggests, the Buteyko breathing system was developed by Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, who was (and is) renowned as a leading respiratory expert. It was based on his understanding of the prior work of Dr. Christian Bohr combined with his own observations of patients in an acute respiratory ward. In very simple terms, Dr. Buteyko observed that taking lots of rapid, shallow breaths was less effective than taking slower, deeper ones. Many people will relate to this observation from their own experience and the fact that “taking deep breaths” is often a first step towards resolving emotional issues. Taking this one step further and really coming to understand what good breathing means in practice and how to implement it can be simply invaluable for our physical health and mental wellbeing.
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This article was written by Jon Reyes from Clearwells. He has over 10 years’ experience in writing health related topics and specializes in the health benefits of saunas and hydrotherapy.