We have all been there, in a yoga or Pilates class where the teacher is constantly reminding you to breathe. It seems pretty ridiculous to say ‘it’s so important to breathe’ when it’s something that we do automatically. But, it’s the how that’s really important. Breathing correctly can have a huge impact on your mental and physical health and is vital to living a longer and healthy life. So, what are the benefits exactly…?
Carbon dioxide is waste from your body’s metabolism and it is released from your body when you exhale. Breathing releases 70% of your body’s toxins and so if you are not breathing deeply, the other systems in your body will have to work overtime.
Although we breathe every single moment of every single day, breathing is also just as much of a conscious activity as it is an unconscious activity. It can lead and participate in the way the nervous system works which controls every aspect of our body and it’s functions. The automatic nervous system is made up of two systems, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest). We need both to survive, having faster breath, allows us to respond rapidly to a ‘threat’. Slow, deep breathing drops us into the parasympathetic nervous system. In today’s hectic world we spend too much time in the sympathetic so it is so important to take some time out each day to breath deeply to go into the parasympathetic. This is where we receive the calming benefits (immediate and long term) such as lower blood pressure, reduced stress, relaxation, better sleep, digestion and better mental and physical health.
When we are stressed, angry or scared our body constricts, muscles tighten and breathing becomes shallow. Taking long, slow, deep and controlled breaths reverses this and tension will soon melt away.
The longer and deeper we breathe, the more oxygen moves around the body and oxygenation of the brain reduces anxiety levels. Breathing slowly and deeply relaxes the mind, bringing focus and with that clarity and deeper insight.