Everyone knows about the three Bs in music: Brahms, Beethoven and Bach. In my next three articles I will present three equally influential (and enjoyable!) Bs that are easy and fun to incorporate into daily living to dramatically improve your health and body. This is the first of a 3-part series.
A Breathtaking Recovery
Just after her 85th birthday, my mother, Barbara Brewerton Lee, graciously retired from over 13 years of cherished service as a temple worker at the San Diego and Washington, D.C. temples. Her age alone would have been reason to retire, but for her, it was pain and difficulty from lower body injuries at different stages in her life that forced her to retire long before she wanted to. At age 12 she had experienced knee injuries and botched surgeries. In her mid-40’s she badly broke her pelvis in a car accident. Arthritis and osteoporosis also set in. In her 50’s, osteoporosis caused a broken hip.
As she moved in with my sister, she was pretty much bedridden and confined to a fetal position on one side. She was cheerful and uncomplaining when awake, but slept for many hours each day and as much as possible, mostly as a pain management strategy. When she was awake, she did lovely quiet things in bed.
At the same time I was personally introduced to the importance of deep breathing each day, in actual 15-20 minute exercise sessions, in various yoga-type positions. The creator of this program found me through my articles on Meridian, and contacted me. (More info is at the end of the article.) I casually passed it along to my sister, who started doing the exercises in Mom’s room to keep her company. Soon Mom started doing them while lying on her bad, adapting the positions to what she could physically do.
Within a couple of weeks Susan called to say, “You’re not going to believe this! Mom’s quickly getting back to herself, awake during the day with enthusiasm and a list of things she wants to do!” As she continued the deep breathing the pain lessened incredibly, and her energy rose dramatically. She was able to get out of bed and function amazingly well again. After several months of the breathing (along with the addition of the detox product that I share here at Meridian, she was even able to travel again, flying across country to Utah for family weddings and to meet great grandchildren. (You can meet her and learn more at a family history scrapbook type website I built for her last spring. The link is at the bottom.)
Could just breathing really make that big of difference? Addressing extreme pain, mobility and energy and detoxing issues like a powerful drug? Well, it is six years later, and Mom has had a very different life during that time than she would have without that deep breathing. She has continued to do the exercises while lying on a bed as her spine (riddled with osteoporosis and arthritis) no longer supports her body weight.
Although I never would have found this information essential or interesting before, it’s too important not to share: Breathing is a natural pain killer! For many, it also helps with weight management! And it’s free!
1. Deep Breathing 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 the natural waste of your body’s metabolism.
2. Deep Breathing 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.
3. Deep Breathing Relaxes the Mind/Body and Brings Clarity
Oxygenation of the brain reducing 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.
4. Deep Breathing Relieves Emotional Problems
Breathing will help clear uneasy feelings out of your body.
5. Deep Breathing 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.
6. Breathing 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 improve circulation in them. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.
7. Deep Breathing 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.
8. Deep Breathing 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.
9. Deep Breathing 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.
10. Deep Breathing Improves Quality of the Blood
Deep breathing removes all the carbon-dioxide and increases oxygen in the blood and thus increases blood quality.
11. Deep Breathing Increases Digestion and Assimilation of Food
The digestive organs, such as the stomach, receive more oxygen, and hence operates more efficiently. The digestion is further enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated more.
12. Deep Breathing Improves the 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.
13. Deep Breathing Strengthen the Lungs
As you breathe deeply the lung become healthy and powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems.
14. Deep Proper Breathing makes the Heart Stronger.
Breathing exercises reduce the workload on the heart in two ways. First, deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen, is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Second, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the lungs, which leads to an increase in the circulation, thus resting the heart a little.
15. Deep Proper Breathing assists in Weight Control. Deep breathing provides your body’s cells with oxygen, which helps you absorb nutrients. It also stimulates your lymphatic system to get rid of toxins. If your breath is shallow, also known as chest breathing, your cells are receiving less nutrients and your lymph system may be more sluggish, both of which may lead to weight gain, according to the study. Read more: If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands.
16. Deep Breathing Boosts Energy Levels and Improves Stamina
17. Breathing Improves Cellular Regeneration
18. Breathing Elevates Moods Breathing increase pleasure-inducing neuro-chemicals in the brain to elevate moods and combat physical pain.
Breathing is instinctively the first and most important thing we do when we are born. A loudly crying baby is what every parent, doctor and midwife is waiting for because it means that the baby is alive, well and has made the transition from fetal life to life outside the womb.
This whole transition process at birth is fascinating and quick: The baby’s lungs, which were filled with fluid during pregnancy, have suddenly filed with oxygen from the air. The fluid in the lungs is removed through the blood and lymph system, and is replaced by air. The baby’s lungs must be able to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. At the same time, vigorous blood circulation in the lungs will begin. The miraculous glory of it all is truly worth spending a few moments on. (Just Google “baby’s first breath” and get ready to be awed with the miracle of birth and procreation.) Remarkably, the first few breaths after birth may be the most difficult breaths you have ever, or will ever take. Think of blowing up a tiny, new, un-stretched balloon. It’s not too different!
The problem is that as we get older we breathe higher and higher up in the lungs, often referred to as “chest breathing.” I truly believe this is where my Mom took the issue head on and changed her life and future, simply be having a deep breathing session on her bed for 15 minutes each day.
Babies and young healthy breathe from low down in their lungs and their bellies rise and fall as they breathe. The obvious answer for anyone who is interested in improving their health is to breathe like a baby with the whole body and with noticeable movement in and out from the belly, although of course you are not breathing from the belly, but the lungs, deep into the diaphragm.
How to Breathe Basics
Schedule your deep breathing exercise just as you would schedule important business appointments. Set aside a minimum of two 10 minute segments of time everyday although you can begin with two five minutes segments if you prefer.
Diaphragmatic breathing, often called deep breathing, is the healthiest way to breathe. Even though it may feel unnatural at first, deep breathing has many benefits, physical, mental and emotional.
In order to breathe properly you need to breathe deeply into your abdomen not just your chest.
Even in the old Greek and Roman times the doctors recommended deep breathing, the voluntary holding of air in the lungs, believing that this exercise cleansed the system of impurities and gave strength. This certainly is of great value to you in your work in the world. Breathing exercises should be deep, slow, rhythmic, and through the nose, not through the mouth. The most important parts of deep breathing has to be regulating your breaths three to four seconds in, and three to four seconds out.
1. Inhale through your nose, expanding your belly, then fill your chest. Counting to 5
2. Hold and Count to 3. Feel all your cells filled with golden, healing, balancing Sun light energy.
3. Exhale fully from slightly parted mouth and Feel all your cells releasing waste and emptying all old energy. Count to five and repeat.
You may feel a little light headed at first.
Breathing Programs Review: I have tried three programs, all that have been around for a very long time, and people are still using all of them with great success.
1) Zna 02 Workout. Zna (pronounced like “Tina”) is LDS. This is the program my Mom found to be so helpful. We thank Zna, from the bottom of our hearts for taking the time to personally coach us! Her personal coaching is still available at the site. Our frustration with Zna was that there was not a video, DVD or even a book with pictures so that you could learn do the workout along with her or a model. It was very confusing, as she tried to explain the positions but as Mom has proven, it can be done and is extremely beneficial.
2) Oxycise.com- This is JUST right for me! I’d seen it advertised for years, and when the Introductory and Level I VHS tapes (yes, we still have a player and I love it for things like this …) showed up for $1.00 at a thrift shop, I bought and tried it. Once I got over laughing at the 80’s hilariousness of the spiral perms and clothing they wear and gave it an honest try, I found that I felt just great. It only takes 15 minutes, and is perfectly reasonable to do in the living room in front of anyone. Whether or not you lose weight and inches, here’s a natural “high” after spending the 15 minutes to do it that lasts for a LONG time. It’s worth it all simply as a de-stressor, and then to know from the list above of beneficial things the deep breathing does, losing weight/inches is the low-fat frosting on the sugar-free cake! There are umpteen happy testimonials from normal people on their site and at Amazon, so I am putting it to the test: I plunked down my money for the lower-body workout and am committed to spending 90 days to see what happens. I’ll keep you posted!
3) BodyFlex.com I first purchased this in the mid-90’s. I don’t think I spent enough time with it to prove its worth because the isometric stretching positions and breathing techniques were too extreme to be practical or comfortable. My kids are still laughing at the sounds I made…. And that was going on 20 years ago! But there are still many favorable reviews out there that you can easily Google.
So, I’m asking … who doesn’t have 15 minutes to breathe properly when it is FREE and makes such a difference in how your body functions?!?!
Meet My Mother, Barbara Brewerton Lee, Aged 91: www.BarbaraBrewertonLee.com We built this scrapbook type site for her last Spring as a way of sharing her life and her family history.
You can learn more about her experience with breathing and detoxing HERE
My Next Article will be another B: Bouncing! You’re gonna love it as this is as FUN as it is FUNDAMENTAL for optimal health.
Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her favorite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Her book, 60 seconds to Weight Loss Success, is available for free through the first of week of September from her website, www.MyMiracleTea.com or at Amazon.com Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at www.MyMiracleTea.com