How often are you in a rush and unaware of using only a fraction of your lung capacity? Why does this matter?
Inhalation delivers the vital nutrient, oxygen, into our bodies and is required for the proper functioning of every organ. Lack of oxygen to, for instance the brain, the organ that requires the most oxygen, results in mental sluggishness, negative thoughts and depression.
Unless we do something to reverse our breathing habits, our health can suffer.
The good news is that this IS reversible. Pranayama is ancient wisdom, considered the ultimate medicine for all diseases, and through it we can change our breathing habits.
Five thousand year ago, ancient sages recognised that slowing down the breath, calms the mind and the body relaxes. We enter a more heightened state of meditation which brings a profound sense of tranquility and inner peace to daily life.
Back to nature
Our innate nature is to deep breath, babies do so naturally. However, as we develop into adults, life becomes busier and we find ourselves in a constant state of activity. With endless lists of yet more things to do, the mind chatter just keeps on increasing. Without a daily pause, to stop and become mindful, we can find stress accumulates and there is no ability to turn down the volume of this mind chatter. This is especially important for our ability to relax during the day as well as sleep.
The fact is most of us shallow breathe, using around one tenth of our lung capacity. The resulting blood oxygen levels are just sufficient to ‘tick over’ which has the effect of lowering our vitality and increasing stress. If we used a greater lung capacity regularly, we would deliver high vitality to all the cells and organs, particularly benefitting the brain, since it is the organ that requires the most oxygen, The good news is that this is all reversible. The breath has a memory and just as any muscles in the body can change their muscle memory, the same is true for the breath. By learning to breathe deeply in a conscious way, we can reverse years of a shallow breathing habit, encouraging the body to develop a new default breath that is longer, slower and deeper. As the mind follows the breath, it too becomes calmer and we begin to feel more in control of our lives.
Around 70 percent of the toxins accumulated in the body leave through our exhale breath. Yet, since most of us shallow breath, we are not efficiently riding the body of these toxins. Pranayama includes focused exhale breathing exercises to enable the body to deeply detoxify, which boosts the immune system.