Breathing is life.
It provides oxygen that gives our cells the ability to break down food, and helps removes waste and toxins from the cells, as well as removes carbon dioxide from the body. Breathing properly can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and regulate the PH level in the blood within the body. In yoga postures, you will learn to use the rib cage, diaphragm and thoracic spine as the main structure for breath.
The nose has a specific purpose for breathing, to support your respiratory system. Breathing through the nose will filter dust and allergens from entering the lungs, boosts your oxygen uptake, warms and humidifies the air as it enters the body. Mouth breathing on the other hand can dry out your mouth and the long term effects of mouth breathing leads to sleep problems, tooth decay and learning difficulties.
When your body is stressed, and there is tension, you will typically take short and shallow breaths in the chest. When you do this, you do not fully engage the diaphragm, instead you overuse the neck, chest and shoulder muscles which can lead to pain, tightness and headaches. This stress response can be reduced by consciously breathing using the diaphragm. When you inhale, the diaphragm contract flattens, creates space in the thoracic cavity allowing the lungs to expand. When you exahale, the diaphragm relaxes and the opposite happens.
By using diaphragmatic breathing and abdominal breathing, you can help to control the nervous system and you can get your fight and flight response to switch off. This encourages the body to relax and the rest and digest system to switch on. This allows your body to renew, restore and rebalance itself. Breathing properly can lower the blood pressure and heart rate, and cortisol levels in the blood, reducing lactic acid build up in the muscles, improves the immune function and reduce anxiety and tension.
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