Breath is life. There is no other element of health more important than the breath.
As important as breath is to life, to health, and to vitality, most people don’t know how to breathe effectively.
Most people have been taught that they should suck in their belly and breath high into the upper part of their chest. This profoundly limits breathing. By breathing this way, your vital capacity, the amount of air your lungs can work with, is dramatically limited – and your energy and endurance suffers. Breathing this way causes imbalances in the autonomic nervous system, resulting in nervousness, anxiety, and depression while simultaneously hindering digestion and elimination.
Natural breathing optimizes energy and endurance, creates poise and calm, massages the organs of the abdomen to improve circulation and tone, and thereby improves digestion and elimination. Natural breathing also improves and maintains flexibility of the spine, pelvis, and rib cage through the rhythmic movement of these structures that occurs with full, natural, and unrestricted breathing. Natural breathing directly improves athletic performance.
Circulation throughout your body is improved with natural breathing, through increased circulation in the lymphatic system and increased oxygenation of the blood and tissues. Your body becomes less affected by cold when you breathe fully, and your hands and feet will feel warmer. Because of improved oxygenation and circulation to your brain, your thinking will be clearer and faster and your spirits will improve.
So what is natural breathing? It is the breathing of a child before he or she has been taught differently. It is full and unrestricted and involves movement of your abdomen (belly), pelvis, spine, and ribcage. With this inclusive movement of your body with each breath, your lungs are free to expand fully and function optimally.
• Inhale through your nostrils (nose).
• Let your abdomen (belly) expand.
• Let your ribs expand and your chest rise slightly.
• Let your pelvis rock forward and downward.
• Let the floor of your pelvis relax and expand slightly.
• Exhale through your nostrils.
• Actively contract your abdomen, including the muscles in the sides of your abdomen.
• Contract your ribcage; even contract the muscles between your ribs.
• Your pelvis rocks backward and upward.
• Contract the floor of your pelvis.
Initially, practice standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Place your hands with your index and middle fingers meeting on the lower part of your abdomen just below your umbilicus (belly button). Follow the directions as above, focusing on the rocking movement of your pelvis and the expansion of your abdomen. When done properly, you will feel a slight stretching sensation in your sacrum (back of your pelvis).
This represents natural breathing, which will dramatically improve your health. Setting aside 10 minutes once or twice a day to focus on the process will soon make this way of breathing feel quite natural to you.