We all are walking miracles. One of the many miraculous things about us is our body. I mean we have over 100 trillion cells in our body, and each cell works at lightening speeds to keep our hearts beating, lungs breathing, muscles working, nerves firing, etc without us even realizing it. We need to honor this creation, so it can serve us better and enable us to fulfill our divine purposes in life. One of the easiest things to do for this which is also absolutely free of cost is deep, mindful breathing!
Obviously, we all breathe, or else we’d be as good as dead! But due to our modern lifestyle, we spend more time indoors in front of our computers, hunched over our desks or chilling on our couch watching television. We don’t get enough fresh air and stress, poor posture, this fast-paced life all lead us to taking in short, shallow breaths from the chest. However, if we want optimal health and vitality, we should practice breathing more fully and deeply from our belly.
Here are all the benefits:
Improves circulation- our blood can deliver more nutrients and oxygen to all our cells, so they can rejuvenate us fully.
Helps our body detoxify – by allowing the lymph to drain out. Lymph is a fluid that collects all the toxins, byproducts, and wastes from our cells and tissues. Our lymph relies on breathing or bodily movement to move around (unlike the blood which has a pump to move it around aka the heart). So, it’s great for some easy cleansing.
Promotes deep relaxation ! You see, when we are stressed or anxious, our stress hormones go way high which causes our muscles to tense up, we breathe rapidly, our chest constricts, our mind races, etc. However, when the stress is gone, we let out a deep breath which sends signals to the brain that everything is ok and our muscles then relax, our heart rate slows down, our chest expands, our mind quiets, etc. It’s like a natural tranquilizer.
Here’s how to do it:
Sit in an upright manner. Be comfortable. Not stiff or tense. Now, exhale fully through your mouth (with that whooshing sound). We start with exhale because to get a full inhale, we need to empty out our lungs completely first. Now, inhale quietly through your nose to the count of 4 and then exhale noisily through your mouth to the count of 8. Repeat this about 4 to 5 times and try to do it twice a day: in the morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed. Overtime, this will really give you deep relaxation, and you can use it at those times when you most need it.
There’s another great benefit from this that I have to dedicate a whole section to! It’s that mindful breathing helps facilitate weight loss! Get this, our body needs oxygen to burn the food we eat! Think of it this way, our metabolism is like a fire. When you eat slowly, breathing in more oxygen, your digestive fire burns brightly. When we eat too fast, not breathing properly, our digestive fire becomes dim, which means sluggish metabolism and weight gain.
So, try this nourishing protocol once in a while when you have the time:
Before you begin eating, stop to breathe slowly until you feel calm. Then say a prayer of gratitude for your food. You can light a candle too to enhance the feeling of calm. All this preparation to eat will also give time for your body to release its digestive juices and enzymes, so it can better digest your food for you (this is important as we all increasingly are dealing with more digestive disorders like acid reflux, constipation, IBS, etc). Now, chew slowly and tune in to the smell, the flavor, and the texture of your food and savor every bite. You will experience more pleasure from your food this way, and therefore you will be satisfied with less (when you mindlessly stuff yourself, you can feel hungry again not too late afterwards). Also, it takes our brains about 20 minutes to register that our stomach is full, so if you eat too fast, you can eat past the point your full and feel bloated and uncomfortable later. So, let’s try to change our habits of eating while driving, on the subway, just multi-tasking etc. because our body does not like to be in a highly alert, “fight or flight” mode when it’s trying to digest and absorb that food to nourish us. Nourishment, in and of itself is a peace-loving thing. So, let’s try to practice taking breaths full of nourishment !