The main sources of life are oxygen and water. This is about increasing oxygen intake to enhance energy levels in your body. You know how to breathe, right? Breathing is a 24/7 unconscious act. It provides necessary oxygen to your body, without which the cells of your body would quickly die. But are you breathing the right way?
According to medical experts, most people breathe at less than half of their full capacity. Restricted breathing greatly decreases the respiratory function, which in turn reduces energy levels in the body.
Oxygen is one of the primary sources of life and exhalation is the main way to expel toxins from our bodies. Poor breathing can contribute to a multitude of health problems, from high blood pressure to insomnia.
To improve your breathing, it’s important to do more nasal breathing. Your body is designed to breathe in and out through your nose. However, most people breath a lot through their mouth which can be likened to trying to eat through your nose.
Why do people often breathe ‘wrongly’? Because we are frequently overstimulated and overworked in our daily lives, and a feeling of negative stress is often present. This leads to more mouth and chest breathing, only taking air into the upper lungs, which triggers specific nerve receptors that stimulate a ‘fight or flight’ response (the instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly or to run away).
Breathing in and out through your nose helps you take fuller, deeper breaths. Here are just a few of the benefits:
- The lungs extract oxygen from the air during both exhalation and inhalation. Because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, air exhaled through the nose creates a backflow of air (and oxygen) into the lungs.
- Nasal breathing ensures a better oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange during respiration, which leads to a balanced pH in your blood. During mouth breathing, carbon dioxide is lost too quickly.
- The increased oxygen you get through nasal-breathing increases energy and vitality.
So, use your nose more!
Now let’s talk about your belly. ‘Belly-breathing’ uses the diaphragm which is the muscle designed to do most of the heavy work for proper breathing. The diaphragm should rise and fall with each breath, producing a belly movement. This movement massages the stomach and vital digestive organs, which further stimulates the removal of toxins from the body.
Most importantly, belly breathing fills the lower lungs. This gives a higher oxygen intake and also activates specific nerve receptors that are abundant in the lower lungs, one that are associated with calming the body and mind.
How to practise belly breathing
- Relax your shoulders and sit back or lie down.
- Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
- Slowly breathe in through your nose for a few seconds, feeling the air move into you abdomen and feeling your stomach move out. Your stomach should move more than your chest.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Breathe out slowly and completely, while pressing on your abdomen – if you find breathing out through your nose difficult at first, then breathe out through pursed lips.
- Repeat ten times.
When you practise nasal and belly breathing on a regular basis, slowly but surely your system will start to do this automatically, without you thinking. This leads to increased energy levels and will have a significant positive impact on your overall calmness and balance.
I want to share a technique that provides all of the benefits of deep (belly) breathing and simultaneously floods your body with positive energy and calmness. It combines breathing with a mantra, the repetition of one or two words.
The first step is to decide upon a quality that is important to you. Something you would like to have more of in your life, a quality you desire to have radiate out from you. Examples of these qualities are things like calm, laughter, happiness, love, peace, etc.
There are two parts to the technique: breathing in and breathing out. When you breathe in, you internally say the first word or syllable of the quality. And when you breathe out, you internally say the second word or syllable.
Example of mantras
Say the first word/syllable so that it lasts the full length of your breath in. For example, if this is four seconds, then the first word/syllable for the complete length of your breath out.
The combination of your breathing in and breathing out should sound like: ‘Tooooootaaaal Caaaaaaaaalm’.
Repeat this for one minute initially. Your breathing process will now be linked to constant repetition of the quality you wish to increase in your life.
Remember to use ‘belly breathing’ and to slow your breathing down. I suggest you start using this technique in the quiet of your own home.
Quite quickly it will become a natural process and then you can take it out with you. Practise when you’re walking or travelling (in the car, train, bus, plane) and whenever there is an opportunity.
If you find yourself distracted while practising the technique, don’t get frustrated. Just gently bring your attention back to your mantra. To engage this, close your eyes and visualisation the words as you internally say them.
Mantra breathing is an amazingly simple and powerful thing you can do anytime, anywhere. It’s guaranteed to boost your energy and bring you into a balanced harmonious state. Try it and enjoy the result.
Richard Maddocks, author of The Energy Book.