Posts tagged ‘breathing’

The importance of belly breathing – Part 1.

Post the Second. –

There is an emphasis in the guided meditation to getting the breath down as deep as possible into the belly. This is because one third of all people breathe only into their chest and consequently their breathing is shallow, and the amount of oxygen taken into the body is reduced. It also means that when we are under stress, and the breath is affected, even held, it becomes even shorter and shallower, which can easily lead to hyperventilation.

The body can utilise much more oxygen than most people inhale, and more oxygen is better for the body’s functioning, since the oxygen molecules make their way into every cell of the body. There they are integral to the creation of energy.

Even I , who was an athlete when young, and have been doing meditation and yoga for 20 years, found that my breath was restricted at the diaphragm once I started doing some concentrated belly breathing. Since the diaphragm is the second most important muscle in the body after the heart, it’s wise to try to make it as healthy and free-flowing as possible.

I am currently researching a book on health, well-being and longevity and one of the objects of the book is to be very practical, by giving exercises on DVD that people can follow. I wanted to have a series of yoga asanas that readers could do in order to discover where their body was stiff or in pain so that the work could be targeted at those places. I asked my wife, a yoga teacher, to help me devise these exercises, but she said that it’s better to start with breathing, since that is primary, and the asanas an be looked at later.

This led me to consider my own practise. Although I have been doing yoga, tai chi and meditation for many years I have never actually concentrated on belly breathing and testing my own breath patterns. I knew that I breathed into the belly, but I was also aware that for many years I felt a restriction or obstruction around the middle of my body just where the diaphragm is. I had worked on trying to loosen this tension, but had I actually eliminated it?

My wife had started learning Transformational Breathing, a training co-devised by Judith Kravitz in the US. She had Judith’s book Breathe Deep Laugh Loudly  and an audio CD, so I decided to read the book and do the exercises, without a teacher (having a teacher would have been preferable). Transformational Breathing exercises ask you to breath into the belly through the mouth and not the nose, and I found that after a short time doing the exercise my head felt light-headed. According to the book, this may have been due to the balance in my body between oxygen and nitrogen. When you breathe through the mouth and try to fill the belly with breath, you are deliberately taking into the body a great deal more oxygen than you normally would. This changes the balance between the nitrogen and oxygen in the body and could be the reason for my light-headedness.

I also realised that although the exercise called for 100 continuous breaths like this on a daily basis, that I got too light-headed to do that many. Clearly more work was needed on my belly breating.

To be continued

April 15, 2009 at 10:22 am 2 comments

The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.