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How Good Breathing Underpins Good Health

My top 10 benefits of breathing well

  • You will feel more relaxed … a good start.
  • You will have more energy from more oxygen in your system
  • Your adrenalin levels drop as your blood oxygen increases – calm AND relaxed!
  • Digestion improves as the gut organs are massaged by the diaphragm
  • Digestion also improves because you digest better (in terms of hormone secretion and absorption of nutrients) if you are more relaxed
  • Your immune system can work more efficiently as lymphatic fluid is moved around the body by full movement of the diaphragm and white blood cells can get around to where they are needed more easily
  • Elimination of digestive waste is helped along by the diaphragm
  • You might find you have a clearer head from better oxygen levels and better fluid movement in the body (veins and lymphatics) and elimination of waste
  • You may feel like you have more time
  • You may find it easier to make decisions…or make better decisions… or do less but feel like you’ve got more done… may simply feel better.

So what does good breathing look like?

If you look at a baby or young child, chances are that you will see their belly moving as they breathe. This is a good thing! It is a sign that they are using their diaphragm well when they breathe, and that this is massaging all their abdominal organs as it moves. This in turn helps their digestion and elimination of waste, because it helps move it all through the gut.

It also means that they are using the lower part of their lungs to breathe from, and this means that they will be taking up oxygen and eliminating carbon dioxide more efficiently than we do from our upper lungs. This is due to air pressure gradients and how they influence the take up and release of our blood gases – it is most efficient (easy) in our lower lungs just above the diaphragm.

How to breathe well:

  • I suggest you try and do this exercise morning and evening. In the morning perhaps best to get up first and do before/after breakfast; in the evening this is a good way to relax before going to sleep.
  • Begin either sitting or lying down; relax (drop) your shoulders and make sure you are straight without being tense.
  • Put a hand on your belly button and begin to push your hand out with your tummy as you breathe in through your nose for a slow count of four. Direct your breath to the space you have created in your abdomen.
  • Pause briefly
  • Begin breathing out through your mouth for a slow count of seven. As you do so, follow your belly back towards your spine with your hand. If you feel any tensions (e.g. in your shoulders and neck) try to let them dissolve away as you breathe out.
  • Pause briefly and repeat 9 more times, or more once you’ve got the hang of this.

When you first try this you may find it quite difficult and feel as if there’s an “argument” going on in your body about what to do. If so, perhaps try breathing out first, and then try breathing in – you may find that it helps you relax into it better.

If you would like to see if osteopathy can help you, give me a call on 020 7993 8116 and I’ll be delighted to talk to you.