Sunday, May 1, 2011

64. The habit of health: The art of breathing.

It seems that the highest of the needs for life of a human being is that of breathing, and taking the energy of  O2 and air. It is also the need that to satisfy it he (she) does not have to do it by killing the life of another creature, not even take the fruits of life of other living organisms. Breathing is  an abundant source, not a scarce resource and by breathing we do not reduce the resource of other breathing organisms. So its psychology is that of abundance and win-win with the interaction of other living organisms. The more the importance of breathing, the more we take it for granted and we even forget that we are breathing. Breathing is also in the boundary of the conscious decisions in the body and unconscious functions. For all the above reasons breathing is of paramount importance in having the right energy and  consciously directing it where we want so as to have the right psychology and health. I recommend the nice book by Nancy Z. The art of Breathing.
If we get a headache through the stress of our life, the art of breathing can help us: We count 10 times (e.g. seconds) and we hold the breath for 10 more times. Then we repeat it 10 times. The energy of the O2 goes to the brain through blood, and the balance changes. Alternatively we may utilize guided imagery that I describe in another post.
Tony Robbins in his book "Unlimited Power"  recommends inhaling (say X seconds) , then hold it for 4X seconds, and exhale 2X seconds. Repeat it 10 times, and do that 3 times per day. The power that the energy of breathing gives to the body is incredible.

About types of breathing. Here are 8 types of breathing


a1) Equal Breathing
How it’s done: Balance can do a body good, beginning with the breath. To start, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four — all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath.  More advanced technique can aim for six to eight counts per breath with the same goal in mind: calm the nervous system, increase focus and reduce stress.
Level of difficulty: Beginner



a2)   Unequal , inhale long-exhale short breathing, (“Skull Shining Breath”) 
How it’s done: Ready to brighten up your day from the inside out? This one begins with a long, slow inhale, followed by a quick, powerful exhale generated from the lower belly. Once comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.
When it works best: Morning, when it’s time to wake up, warm up or start looking on the brighter side of things. 
Level of difficulty: Advanced


a3)   Unequal , inhale short-exhale long breathing
How it’s done:  This one begins with a very voluminous but short-fast inhale, that absorbs as much as possible air both in the chest and abdominal area, followed by a slow, long exhale . Once comfortable with the contraction, up the pace to one inhale-exhale (all through the nose) every one to two seconds, for a total of 10 breaths.
When it works best: Evening, before going to sleep, before an exam, or any stressful event.
Level of difficulty: Advanced (because it is not very easy to absorb, all the necessary air in the inhale
a4) Abdominal Breathing Technique
How it’s done: With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. The goal: Six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. Keep at it for six to eight weeks, and those benefits might stick around even longer.
When it works best: Evening, before going to sleep when wanting to calm down,  before an exam, or any stressful event. But keep in mind, “Those who operate in a stressed state all the time might be a little shocked how hard it is to control the breath,”. 
Level of difficulty: Beginner
a5) Chest breathing
This is the opposite of the abdominal breathing. 
How it’s done: With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the chest raises and inflates with enough air to create a stretch The goal: Six to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. Keep at it for six to eight weeks, and those benefits might stick around even longer.
When it works best: Waking up in the morning, or before start working in the fields in nature, or before an physically intensive effort 
Level of difficulty: Beginner
a6)  Alternate Nostril Breathing
How it’s done: A yogi’s best friend, this breath is said to bring calm and balance, and unite the right and left sides of the brain. Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb and exhaling through the left nostril.
When it works best: Crunch time, or whenever it’s time to focus or energize. Just don’t try this one before bed: 
Level of difficulty: Intermediate
a7) Correlated breathing: Progressive Relaxation
How it’s done: To nix tension from head to toe, close the eyes and focus on tensing and relaxing each muscle group for two to three seconds each. Start with the feet and toes, then move up to the knees, thighs, rear, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and eyes — all while maintaining deep, slow breaths. Having trouble staying on track? Anxiety and panic specialist Dr. Patricia Farrell suggests we breathe in through the nose, hold for a count of five while the muscles tense, then breathe out through the mouth on release.
When it works best: At home, at a desk or even on the road. One word of caution: Dizziness is never the goal. If holding the breath ever feels uncomfortable, tone it down to just a few seconds at most.
Level of difficulty: Beginner
a8). Correlated breathing: Guided Visualization
How it’s done: Head straight for that “happy place,” no questions asked. With a coach, therapist or helpful recording as your guide, breathe deeply while focusing on pleasant, positive images to replace any negative thoughts. Psychologist Dr. Ellen Langer explains that while it’s just one means of achieving mindfulness, “Guided visualization helps puts you in the place you want to be, rather than letting your mind go to the internal dialogue that is stressful.”
When it works best: Pretty much anyplace you can safely close your eyes and let go (e.g. not at the wheel of a car).
Level of difficulty: Intermediate