I have over 10 years of experience in the alternative healing and energy fields as a healer and learner of the ancient healing sciences.
The Art of the Breath
We often think that breathing is natural. It's not something to think about, pay attention to, or place extra emphasis on.
However, there is a deep scientific understanding behind the breath. It's more than meets the eye. Those who have looked behind the veil of breathing understand that the right way of breathing also supports our ability to stay healthier and happier.
Breathing, when done in a certain way, allows us to relax. It releases specific chemical reactions into our body to help us to balance. It can provide us with a base to begin to heal from mental, emotional, and even physical ailments.
The art of the breath is one that is recognized as holding deep emphasis in our ability to keep our entire body and sense of well-being in balance.
Basic Breathing Techniques
The concept of natural breathing is one that we believe happens without conscious thought. However, being able to identify the breath and how we are interacting with inhalation and exhalation ultimately changes our ability to remain well.
In Western society, we are taught to breathe with a "shallow" response system. This means that when we inhale, we only allow the oxygen to go to our lounges and then exhale out. You will notice that as you do so, your shoulders may lift and you don't fill your entire stomach with the same oxygen.
This particular form of breathing is what is used with fear and flight response systems. It actually tells your body that you are stressed, should have a state of fear, and may be in danger. It's what is used when you need to move quickly from a situation.
Breathing incorrectly at this base level can become detrimental to your health and ability to relax. In turn, you want to start becoming conscious of how to use your breath.
Instead of using a short breath, start focusing on deeper use of oxygen. When you inhale, focus on the breath going all the way to your stomach. You will see your stomach inflate like a balloon, meaning that you have allowed the oxygen to travel all the way to your diaphragm.
When you use this foundational technique for breathing instead of shorter methods through the lungs, then you begin to relax. You have more oxygen that goes throughout your body. You are telling your body that it can slow down and keep pace and that you aren't in danger.
At this point, you're no longer releasing unnecessary cortisol and stress hormones to the brain. Instead, you are working with oxygen that releases endorphins into the body.
The Science Behind the Breath
Scientists have found that the art of deep breathing and focusing on the breath has a direct impact on our health.
At a root level, when you breathe deeply and use the diaphragm, you release endorphins to your brain. These are the feel-good chemicals that help you to stay happy, balanced, and relaxed.
It has also been found that deep breathing impacts brain health significantly. The brain is dependent on a supply of 20% of oxygen. When it lacks this, you feel like you have brain fog, may get headaches or feel strained, or go into deterioration with the state of thinking. When you deep breathe, you are supplying your brain with more oxygen and allowing it to regenerate.
Others have found that breathing alone can alter deeper states of our body's health. It has the ability to reduce blood pressure and balance our bloodstream. Others have found that it hits us at a cellular level, where oxygenation can remove toxins and support the regeneration of our genetic structure.
Breathing alone supports complete revitalization of our body, mind, and overall well-being.
Yogic Breathing Techniques
At a foundational level, Yoga is the practice of breathing. It is the way that we breathe that allows us to receive higher connections and to support complete mind-body health. Following are some of the Yogic exercises that allow you to start shifting your breathing techniques for relaxation, revitalization, and support of your body's system.
1. Fire Breath. If you want to build your energy, the fire breath works as a Kundalini method of Yoga to ignite and spark your body. This technique starts with a deep and fast inhalation and exhalation both through the nose, focusing on deeper diaphragmatic breathing. You will move your breath as quickly as possible. Try to follow the pattern with 4-5 breaths per second, sounding like you are panting. When finished, exhale as deeply as possible to release all unwanted energies.
2. Ocean Breath. To slow down and relax, the ocean breath is one of the best techniques, allowing you to overemphasize the amount of oxygen going through your system. Begin this method with a deep and slow breath through the nose. Many beginners will recommend counting to 5 with the inhalation. You will then exhale through the mouth, using the same count of 5 with the exhale. If you want to advance this, hold the breath for 5 seconds before you exhale, allowing the oxygen to disperse and maximize the impact. When you do this lying down, in squatting positions, or other Yogic poses, it maximizes the impact by targeting specific regions of your body.
3. Alternative Nostril Breathing. Balance the mind on the left and right hemispheres with nostril breathing. Take your hand and place the thumb on one side of the nostril and the index finger on the other. Close the left nostril with the thumb and breathe in through the right nostril. Hold the breath. Place the index finger on the right nostril and exhale through the left nostril. Repeat this several times. Switch sides where the right nostril is closed with the thumb first and the left nostril closes with the index finger. It will feel as though you are circulating the breath on both sides of your body.
These are some of several techniques used in Yoga and Pranayama. They each target specific needs you have and show how you can maximize the effect of the breath in order to balance, revitalize, and maintain health.
Embracing Your Life Force
The life force that we have all been given is also a powerful healer. It has the capacity to balance our mind and body. It rejuvenates and detoxifies our system. When used properly, it can help us to energize or to relax.
From the foundational concepts of the breath to the impact of targeted techniques are ways that you can use the power of oxygen and your own breathing in order to balance mind-body-spirit while embracing the power you have within you to heal.
1. Herbert, B. (2011). Relaxation Revolution: The Science and Genetics of Mind Body Healing. Scribner.
2. Sternberg, E. (2001). The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health and Emotions.
3. Cuda, Gretchen. (2011). Just Breathe: The Body Has a Built In Stress-Reliever. NPR.
4. Soma Breath. (2022). Retrieved from: https://www.somabreath.com/
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Brooke Hart