We can live for weeks without food and days without water, but if we stop breathing for more than two or three minutes, we die. Breathing is the single most important physical function we perform, yet, almost all of us breathe inefficiently.
For the most part, we aren’t even conscious of our breath, and spend hour after hour breathing shallowly into the chest, depriving ourselves of the tremendous energy and revitalizing power that proper breathing can provide.
The primary purpose of breathing is to deliver oxygen to every cell in every tissue and organ in the body while removing carbon dioxide. Oxygen’s primary role in the body is to produce the energy required for every basic bodily function via its interaction with adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Since the cellular content of ATP is responsible for the body’s total energy levels and its ability to perform all of its functions, adequate oxygen levels are essential for our overall health. When our oxygen intake is reduced, ATP is diminished as well.
A variety of environmental factors can also contribute to oxygen deficiency, including high carbon monoxide and smoke pollution, smog, and high altitude. (Oxygen content decreases by over 3 percent every thousand feet above sea level.) The primary cause of chronic reduced oxygen levels in the body, however, is due to shallow and inefficient breathing patterns.
Typically, most of us habitually breathe in through the chest, failing to breathe deeply and frilly. This unconscious and inefficient method of breathing significantly reduces our oxygen supply. By simply learning how to improve the way you breathe, you can considerably improve your health and ensure that your cells remain in an oxygen rich state.
Practice abdominal breathing. Breathing through the abdomen instead of through the chest is a simple yet powerful way to improve energy and flow of oxygen, enhance digestion, relieve stomach pain and flatulence, and diminish stress. Since most of us rarely breathe through our bellies, learning to do so at first may seem odd. Yet, abdominal breathing is easy to do.
Just direct your breath in and out through your belly. If you do so correctly, your chest will not move. You can easily check this by placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. As you breathe, the lower hand should move, while the hand on your chest should remain motionless..
Don’t get discouraged if you are unable to accomplish this on your first try. Make it a practice to spend a few minutes each day breathing abdominally (working up to twenty to thirty minutes a day is recommended), along with regular brief sessions whenever you notice yourself feeling tense or irritable.