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The Importance of Breathing

There are hundreds of articles online about how our modern lifestyle can deplete our health in a number of ways. When I come across these articles I begin reading them with interest and by the end feel terrible. So I wont state the obvious things in this article such as computer screens are bad for your eyes and eating meal deal sandwiches from Tesco are bad for your gut. Instead I will try to offer an insight into some information that you may find interesting and in the best case scenario information that you are able to apply to your daily life.

It all starts with the breath. Statistics show that on average we can go three weeks without food, three days without water and three minutes without oxygen. Even if these numbers are not exact it is the ratio that counts. The breathe is the fundamental aspect of our existence. Breathing mechanics and the various forms of breathing exercises is a story for another day but for now I just want to highlight the significance of getting oxygen into the body. Breathing when performed correctly can be used as a tool for relaxation, concentration and it may even help you out of a sticky situation on a Saturday night – if you know what I mean.

This is mostly down to the fact that the breath has great influence over all of the body systems such as the circulatory, endocrine, gastrointestinal and digestive systems i.e bloody pressure, adrenaline and digestion to name a few. When we breathe in a shallow manner over a period of time we begin to flirt with the famed ‘fight or flight’ response. This basically means that we are super charging the body to prepare it for some stressful situation or another.

The human brain has not evolved at the same rate as our loyal companion technology. Therefore when we are stressed in the workplace due to the number of emails that we have to read and reply to within the next 30 minutes, our breathe becomes shallow which in turn provides information to the brain that we are preparing for a stressful situation. The reaction to this is the same as our caveman ancestors, we super charge the body with an influx of adrenaline and heightened blood pressure. Although we are not all pulling our hair out at work, this mechanism is still being activated on a much smaller scale. Over the course of time, this fight or flight response can begin to cause a compromised vehicle. We may become stressed for longer periods of time, struggle with our digestion or begin to experience unexplained aches and pains etc.

More interesting than all of these things, in my opinion at least, is how breathing can be used as your own time machine. You can dramatically slow down your perception of time by engaging in a breathing routine or exercise which encourages a slower more controlled breathe. On the flip side, short shallow breathing which we often experience in heightened states of stress and anxiety makes us feel as if the clock has sped up. This change in perception in time can often give us the feeling that we have “too much going on” or that we cant “clear our head”.

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