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Every Breath You Take In Texas

Aug 17, 2007
Breathing is as natural as - well - breathing. But many individuals in Dallas, Houston and elsewhere in Texas don't know that proper breathing, especially deep breathing, is important to good mental and physical, as well as healthy spiritual development. Breathing increases your vitality and promotes relaxation.

When many individuals take "deep" breaths, most of them do the exact opposite, which is to suck in their bellies and raise their shoulders. This kind of breathing is shallow. A few real deep breaths can be so relaxing, as well as a quick and easy stress reliever. It's something you can do anytime and anywhere. And it can be done so it's not visible to others. The best news is that, by learning how to do deep breathing, you'll be less stressed and handle life more easily.

Before you start with some simple breathing exercises, let's quickly cover the mechanics of breathing. Let's start with the diaphragm -- a dome-shaped structure that not only helps in breathing, but also acts as a natural partition between your heart and lungs and the other internal organs. The top of the diaphragm, located about 1 1/2" up from the bottom of the sternum, actually supports the heart. The bottom of the diaphragm is attached all the way around our lower ribs and connects also to our lower lumbar vertebrae.

When we breathe, the surface of our diaphragm generally moves downward as we inhale and upward as we exhale. When we breathe fully and deeply, the diaphragm moves farther down into the abdomen, so your lungs expand more completely into your chest cavity. This means that more oxygen is taken in and more carbon dioxide is released with each breath. Deep breathing takes advantage of the fact that the lungs are larger toward the bottom than the top.

Many of us breathe way too fast for our everyday condition. In fact, many individuals actually hyperventilate. This fast, shallow breathing expels carbon dioxide too quickly. It also has numerous negative effects on our physical and emotional health. When we do deep breathing, it involves not only the respiratory muscles of the chest but also the abdomen, lower ribcage, and lower back, and our breathing begins to slow down. This slower, deeper breathing, combined with the rhythmical pumping of our diaphragm and abdomen helps turn on our "relaxation response." Such breathing helps harmonize our nervous system and reduce the amount of stress. And it has a positive impact on our overall health.

Here is a quick and easy stress management breathing exercise:
- Sit down or lie down.
- Inhale slowly and say to yourself, "I am relaxing."
- Exhale slowly and say to yourself, "I am relaxed."

Think of breathing as not something you do. It's something you allow. The problem with many of us is that we don't allow our breathing to occur smoothly and naturally.

Now, let's kick up the action a little, for those who want to get more from their breathing exercises. To experience a full breath, it's not necessary to fully expand your lungs with each breath, although it is vital, in heightening your awareness, to experience how a really complete breath feels. This exercise, when used periodically, utilizes the lungs' capacity, and extracts great amounts of "life force" from the air.

You can attempt this exercise sitting, standing and lying down:
1. Exhale deeply, contracting your abdomen.
2. Inhale slowly as you expand the abdomen.
3. Continue inhaling as you expand the chest.
4. Continue inhaling as you raise the shoulders up towards your ears.
5. Hold for a few comfortable seconds.
6. Exhale in reverse pattern, slowly. Release shoulders, relax chest, and contract the abdomen.
7. Repeat.

This exercise will require gentle practice to make sure inhalation and exhalation is smooth and balanced. Beginners should only do it two or three times continuously.

It's important to take care of yourself; from what you eat to even how you breathe. And how you treat your body when you're young will certainly affect your health when you get older. Eventually, it will also affect your wallet.
About the Author
Pat Carpenter writes for Precedent Insurance Company. Precedent puts a new spin on health insurance. Learn more at Precedent.com
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