The Power of Breathing
Breathing is a vital function that marks the start and end points of our lives. You can live for weeks without food and for days without water, but you can live for only minutes without breathing. Therefore, it stands to reason that breathing is the most immediate self-healing cure we have. It is at once so profound, so subconscious and so crucial to our health. Yet we barely use it to our advantage.
Stress is at the root of so many of our common ailments. We’re told not to get stressed but no one seems to know what to do to combat the problem. Breath is THE antidote to stress. Why is breathing deeply so important? Microforms (such as bacteria and fungi) cause acidity in the body – and they love anaerobic environments (those without oxygen). If you oxygenate yourself sufficiently, it becomes harder for acidity to thrive.
Stop. Right now – and pay attention to how you are breathing. You are almost certainly not breathing deeply, right down into your diaphragm.
Short breaths vs deep breathing
Whilst it’s the default for most of us, by shallow breathing we are really missing a health trick. Superficial breathing can lead to an acidic pH balance and stress in the body. It’s a major cause of low vitality and insufficient metabolism, as breathing controls cellular respiration.
The practice of deep abdominal breathing, on the other hand, should lead to a more alkaline pH and relaxed state. Done slowly and mindfully, deep breathing will also affect the nervous system to relieve stress and anxiety. It works by triggering the release of neurohormones, which inhibit stress-producing hormones and result in a relaxation response in the body.
Breath and Energy
Chinese wisdom places huge importance on breathing because it is one of the two major ways we create quality Qi (energy) and blood.
The simple practice of deep breathing is an easy and effective antidote to chronic stress, one that requires neither drugs nor doctors. It is a common Chinese practice to sit in stillness and silence for a while and breath deep into the abdomen. This automatically switches the nervous system over from the active yang phase to the calming, restorative yin phase.
Start with a simple breath meditation
There are endless breath techniques, but try these two easy ones to kick off your practice.
Firstly, an ancient Chinese technique called the Inner Smile.
*Simply hold your hands over the belly and focus your attention there.
*Next, imagine a smile. Why? This sends positivity to the whole area. Imagining a smile tricks our constantly chattering ‘monkey mind’ into focusing positively into our centre, one breath at a time.
*And now, take a long, relaxed breath. This breath calms you, instantly moving awareness and energy out of the head and deeply into the energetic centre of the body.
Another of the simplest and most effective is the 6 Healing Sounds. This is one of the oldest forms of breath therapy.
Doing the sounds activates Qi, which is our life-force or ‘vital breath’. Using this Qi to create a sound causes a vibration that can dissipate physical, emotional or energetic, and mental disturbances.
The actual sounds are incredibly simple:
- Lungs – ssssssss
- Kidney – chooooo
- Wood – shhhhhhhh
- Fire – haaaaaaa
- Earth – whoooo
- Triple burner – herrrrrrrrr
Learn more about the 6 Healing Sounds.
The Taoist masters understood the crucial importance of deep breathing and movement for optimum health. This is how Qigong was born – and it’s one of the pillars of Chinese medicine.
Qigong translates as ‘life force practice’ – it comprises sequences of flowing movements where body, mind and breath are coordinated and relaxed. If you are someone who struggles with traditional meditation, Qigong is a great way to enjoy the benefits of meditation without the hard work!
At Hayo’uFit we offer both Qigong classes and specific breath work courses and flows. If you are keen to sign up to a course, we recommend starting with the 3 Treasures Breathwork course. And breathe….