As someone who for years has been a shallow breather and doing the opposite of what’s recommended, i. e. I’ve been “chest breathing” and pulling my stomach in when inhaling and out when exhaling, I’m determined to be more mindful of doing things correctly. Practicing this routine and a couple of others I’ve come across is already helping proper breathing feel more natural and automatic. 🙂 And I just signed up for Wanderlust’s free 21-day yoga challenge mentioned at the end of this post that will include focusing on the breath, so that should help as well!
This Two Minute Exercise Reduces Pain and Promotes Relaxation
Dangers of painkillers
In the case of all NSAID drugs, the most common side effect is gastrointestinal tract damage. According to Dr. Byron Cryer of the American Gastroenterological Association, over half of all bleeding ulcer instances can be traced back to NSAID use. Other side effects of NSAIDs include severe allergic reactions, kidney damage, and high blood pressure.
Many people who experience chronic pain are prescribed opioid painkillers by doctors. These are a popular option because this class of drug is very potent, and may temporarily eradicate many types of pain. However, these drugs come with a substantial cost in the form of some extremely nasty concerns and side effects.
The primary reason one may want to avoid opioids is their high potential for addiction. Opioid addiction is an epidemic in our nation. The Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control reported that approximately 2.1 million people in the United States alone abused prescription opioid drugs in 2012.
Opioids also carry a high risk of overdose. The CDC reports that in 2010, just under 17,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses. That’s more deaths than from heroin and cocaine put together.
Aside from the frightening risks of addiction and overdose, opioid drugs are accompanied by a lot of potential side effects. One includes slow, shallow breathing, which can lead to death in the case of overdose. Other side effects include irregular heart rhythms, drowsiness, sleep disorders, digestive issues, lowered sex drive, osteoporosis (when taken long term) and tooth decay. It can even cause hyperalgesia, an instance where taking opioids leads to more pain, not less.
Do you have six minutes a day to spare?
I hope that your answer to this question is an inequitable, yes! If you can manage to carve out just 2 minutes each morning, midday and evening, you may well be on your way to pain relief, and relaxation like you have never experienced before.
This is something most people don’t do well
Breathing sustains life, breathing correctly revitalizes and can improve the quality of life while minimizing pain and maximizing relaxation. Most people don’t take the time to think about breathing; it is just one of those things that happen, all on its own. While this is true – taking the time to breathe correctly, even for six short minutes each day, can make a world of difference to your health.
Belly breathing or “diaphragmatic breathing,” is the ancient practice of breathing in which we can actually control our mind and body. According to the London Pain Clinic, diaphragmatic breathing is known as the act of breathing deeply into the lungs by flexing the diaphragm, not the rib cage which results in shallow breathing. As noted in the name belly breathing, when you breathe deeply there is an expansion of the stomach, not the chest.
Even taking the time to breathe deeply for six minutes each day can make a tremendous difference in your health.
Here are just five reasons why we should all belly breathe daily.
Belly breathing alleviates pain
Belly breathing improves respiration
If you have ever watched an infant or a dog or cat breathe, you would notice something interesting. There is a tremendous amount of 3-dimensional expansive movements around the body – especially the abdomen. As we age, we become less likely to breathe expansively or efficiently. We grow stressed, wear tight-fitting clothing and live a lifestyle that pushes breathing to the bottom of the priority list because it “just happens.”
Our cells suffer when we breathe shallowly. They are not able to get the nutrients they need, and this can cause things like fatigue, brain fog, and even longterm illness and chronic pain.
On the other hand, deep breathing profits the entire body because of improved respiration and nutrient uptake.
Belly breathing promotes relaxation
When we are living in a hurried state, like most of us are, we are often in what is known as a “fight or flight” mode. In this gear, we are engaging the sympathetic nervous system.
The only way we can access the autonomic nervous system is through deep breathing. This automatically increases the efficiency of our heart and digestion.
When we choose the relaxation response over the stress response, we can keep anxiety at bay which reduces our risk of stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, depression, digestive disorders and more.
Belly breathing improves posture
Belly breathing encourages you to sit tall. This allows all of your organ systems to work efficiently. Food is easier to digest, your heart works more efficiently, your nerves and blood vessels are less likely to be pinched. This releases hormones that help you feel more confident, causing you to sit even taller.
Belly breathing stretches and strengthens core muscles
Core muscles include the abdominals, erector back muscles, diaphragm, and the pelvic floor. When we breathe from our belly, the three-dimensional movement keeps these core muscles in good shape.
How to belly breathe
Breathing correctly benefits your health in surprising ways. You not only feel more relaxed, but you will have better nutrient absorption, lower blood pressure, and feel more energized. You may even drop a few excess pounds since your body requires a considerable amount of excess oxygen to dispose of fat. With all the benefits of breathing properly, it’s time to make the practice a priority and get started today.
p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.
Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained health care practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.