How to Stay Energized, Renewed and Balanced Throughout Your Summer, Part IV
Point to Ponder:
Do you make it a priority to breathe deeply?
Recently I read a great article where actress Jennifer Garner said something very true, which is, “Unplugging takes real discipline”. In addition to unplugging being difficult, I find that taking long, deep and slow breaths takes real discipline, too. Both unplugging and deep breathing are important to maintaining our health as well as keeping our stress at bay. This is why taking advantage of a holiday like today, July 4th, as well as the summer months where we can unplug, relax and breathe deeply is vital for energy, renewal and overall health.
During the spring and while in Austin, I had a shallow breathing experience. I developed a pounding headache for several days, along with mild chest pain and heart burn—both of which I have never had. At one point I even questioned if I was having a heart attack. It was weird! Thankfully I was able to see my friend, health adviser and mentor Jeff Ulery at Whole Body Health. After accessing my body and cringing when he touched my jaw, diaphragm and shoulders, he diagnosed me with shallow breathing. He adjusted my body, including my diaphragm and jaw, and as I laid and rested on his table for one long and amazing hour, I began feeling renewed. Both my headache, diaphragm and jaw pain eased. Not surprisingly, he recommended the same things he always does when I see him, which is adequate rest, daily prayer and mindful bouts of deep and slow breathing, rather than my normal shallow breathing.
Shallow breathing is thoracic breathing, or chest breathing, which is the drawing of minimal breath into the lungs, usually by drawing air into the chest area using the intercostal muscles rather than throughout the lungs via the diaphragm. Ultimately, my continual shallow breathing is what caused my neck, chest, shoulder pain and tightness, which is what led to the tension in my body. So, as simple as it sounds, my final recommendation to staying energized, renewed and balanced throughout the summer season is to be intentional with deep breathing. Here’s why:
- Detoxifies and Releases Toxins – Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing. If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins i.e. other systems in your body must work overtime which could eventually lead to illness. When you exhale air from your body, you release carbon dioxide that has been passed through from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body’s metabolism.
- Releases Tension – Think how your body feels when you are tense, angry, scared or stressed. It constricts. Your muscles get tight and your breathing becomes shallow. When your breathing is shallow you are not getting the amount of oxygen that your body needs.
- Relaxes the Mind/Body and Brings Clarity – Oxygenation of the brain reduces excessive anxiety levels. Paying attention to your breathing. Breathe slowly, deeply and purposefully into your body. Notice any places that are tight and breathe into them. As you relax your body, you may find that the breathing brings clarity and insights to you as well.
- Relieves Pain – You may not realize its connection to how you think, feel and experience life. For example, what happens to your breathing when you anticipate pain? You probably hold your breath. Yet studies show that breathing into your pain helps to ease it.
- Massages Your Organs – The movements of the diaphragm during the deep. breathing exercise massages the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart. When you inhale air your diaphragm descends and your abdomen will expand. By this action you massage vital organs and improves circulation in them. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.
- Increases Muscle – Breathing is the oxygenation process to all of the cells in your body. With the supply of oxygen to the brain this increases the muscles in your body.
- Strengthens the Immune System – Oxygen travels through your bloodstream by attaching to hemoglobin in your red blood cells. This in turn then enriches your body to metabolize nutrients and vitamins.
- Improves Posture – Good breathing techniques over a sustained period of time will encourage good posture. Bad body posture will result of incorrect breathing so this is such an important process by getting your posture right from early on you will see great benefits.
- Boosts Energy, Improves Stamina and Elevates Mood – Breathing increase pleasure-inducing neurochemicals in the brain to elevate moods and combat physical pain
- Improves Cellular Regeneration and Nervous System – The brain, spinal cord and nerves receive increased oxygenation and are more nourished. This improves the health of the whole body, since the nervous system communicates to all parts of the body.
Finally and very importantly, according to Hope4Cancer, cancer research is supporting that cancer cells thrive in oxygen-poor environments and when the body is deprived of oxygen, disease can set in. Also, according to Bo Forbes, whose research was sited in last week’s journal, cancer cells look for tight connective tissue and dehydrated cells to live in and spread. So, while it sounds ridiculously simple, I believe the key to fully embracing our freedom is through our health, and the ways we access great health, energy, renewal and balance is through daily movement, exercise, stretching, trying new things, staying hydrated, eating often and from the Earth, having fun, unplugging daily and breathing deeply.