Great health and vibrancy requires an abundance of oxygen. Air is primary and fundamental to our earthly existence. Don’t we ask, “Are they breathing?”, if there’s a question of life or death? Don’t we feel invigorated after a good workout? Not only have you challenged your muscles, but you’ve re-charged your cells by giving them the energy they need to carry out their functions through an infusion of oxygen.
Its importance is evident in the more ancient healing systems through the inclusion of breathing exercises for health, vitality and longevity. Western or allopathic medicine has yet to deeply explore, what is considered by some cultures, a sacred science. Sacred because of its ability to connect both our inner and outer worlds.
If you have ever given birth or participated in a childbirth experience with a woman who has successfully maintained control over her breathing throughout the majority of the labor process, there is a marked difference in her active participation and presence during this sacred rite of bringing life into the world. It is not easy or without struggle, but mastery of the breath, through tested techniques, helps to mentally and emotionally override the massive physical demands that labor places upon a mother in labor.
Mastery of the breath is not only applicable to labor and delivery. Breathing techniques can help us through the physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually challenging scenarios of life, in general. Second by second, our body’s internal intelligence seeks to maintain homeostasis or balance. We must take responsibility for playing an active role in maintaining our balance as well. To the best of our ability, we choose where we live, what we eat, where we work, who we socialize with, etc.
Even with the best of intentions, life throws us the inevitable curve ball. Didn’t see it coming! Spun you around and landed you in a place where the sun doesn’t shine! How do we regain our balance? We’ve got to B-R-E-A-T-H-E!
Our respiratory system is responsible for our breathing. If we deconstruct the word respiratory, using the Latin roots, we find ‘re’ meaning again or back, and ‘spirat or ‘spirit’. It is the system that brings us back again to spirit. It is the only system that we have both voluntary and involuntary control of. Meaning, through the breathing techniques we can bring ourselves back to a state of balance. We can center ourselves. True wellness is our capacity to return to a state of balance or equilibrium, on every level of our being, as soon as possible.
There are a number of breathing techniques to choose from. Some are solely for health issues while others are associated with meditative practices.
If it’s good for meditative practices, it is equally beneficial to your health. Some of the techniques that have sustained me throughout life’s ups and downs are four-fold breathing, zazen breathing, bellows breathing (bhastrika pranayama), tai chi, nadi shuddi and deep diaphragmatic breathing. Instructions are available online. Experiment with different techniques.
This is one man’s experience: https://youtu.be/Z4rWY-gY96A Try one daily for a month for 10-15 minutes at the beginning of your day, before lunch or the end of the day. See how they make you feel. Incorporate them into your daily routines, particularly during stressful periods to help you regain your inner and outer equilibrium.