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Can Breathing Techniques Alleviate Allergy Symptoms?

Apr 25, 2008
The National Institute on Aging has found that almost one third of all adults currently residing in the United States do not use their full breathing capacity to their advantage. If your chest puffs up and your belly pushes out, when you inhale and exhale respectively, you're not breathing properly. Does this phenomenon sound strange?

Most people know that infants breathe instinctively from their bellies. This is a common observation that distinguishes infants from adults. With each breath, the diaphragm (the muscle separating your lungs and abdomen) expands with air. Infants breathe this way because it provides for the maximum amount of oxygen to enter the body and the maximum amount of carbon dioxide to leave when you breathe out. Belly (or diaphragmatic) breathing is the best way to breathe for proper health, but the technique is lost as we grow older, which is very unfortunate because belly breathing has been known to be very beneficial.

Adults breathe with a focus on the lung and chest area. Chest breathing, as it's called, limits the amount of oxygen entering the body by constricting breathing. Chest breathing, when shallow and sporadic, can be associated with fear and anxiety.

Health Benefits of Good Breathing Techniques

Your body's system for removing waste, the lymph system, cannot function in the same capacity as a heart that pumps blood. The diaphragm must work to trade "good" air for "bad". Chest breathing prevents this important function. When oxygen and carbon dioxide (as well as other waste products) are inhaled and exhaled in small amounts, the body builds up toxins. Anxiety, depression, muscle tension, headaches, panic attacks and fatigue are just some of the long-term effects of such toxins. Proper breathing can ensure overall health and a better quality of life according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

As more and more Americans are experimenting with yoga, the traditional breathing technique of India, they are finding better breathing to be the key to improved health. The Journal of the American Medical Association states that 40% of Americans have tried some type of yoga and it is becoming as common as aerobics in U.S. athletic clubs. Many are even looking to breathing exercises to help manage asthma.

The Eastern Approach to Healthy Breathing

In India, "prana" or life force (qi - pronounced CHEE in China) is crucial for good health. Proper breathing allows for continuous flow of this life force, resulting in good health. According to Eastern medical tradition, a blocked life force paves the way for disease. Conversely, improved breathing techniques can improve organ function, reduce stress, promote well-being and maintain the life force.

Over the millennia, yogis have developed "asanas", which are postures that improve breathing. They are specifically designed to align the spine for optimal lung performance. Scott states that, "Asanas keep the spine and body healthy in order for the life force to properly flow throughout the body." He considers proper breathing to be as necessary for life and good health as fresh water.
About the Author
For more information on allergy, learn about treating allergy symptoms. If you think you're allergic to animal allergies, find out about animal allergy symptoms
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