Does Breathing Affect Health?
Breathing, for obvious reasons, is a very important aspect of our health.
However there is little attention paid to how we breathe. Ideally the
breath should not be restricted by the chest, diaphragm or abdomen.
It should be free in the body so that it supplies the oxygen to the
body in almost any situation.
Stress, posture or unexpressed emotions can all lead to disruptions
of normal breathing. There is no one right way to breath, but if there
are restrictions, then it will compromise the bodies ability to deal
with certain situations. The consequences for the two common types of
breathing are shown below.
Breathing - has a tendency to stimulate the sympathetic nervous
system, the fight flight reflex. This leads to higher stress in the
body and a more acidic PH balance in the body. This will increase the
tonicity of muscles, particularly the calves, back, shoulders, neck
and jaw. Acidic PH balance in the body can also restrict enzime activity
in digestion. This process can influence someone to be more of a "Type
A" personality, active in body and mind with difficulty switching
Breathing - stimulates the para-sympathetic nervous system,
encouraging relaxation in the body and mind. It tends to lead to a more
alkaline PH balance in the body. Muscles will tend to be more relaxed
and blood will flow better through them. This process can influence
someone to be more of a "Type B" personality, passive in body
and mind, with a difficulty activating and engaging in the world.
take a few minutes to look at how you breathe. See if you hold your
breath, or feel constriction, tightness or unable to relax any area
of the chest and abdomen.
Posture - is caused by repeated habitual movements or positions.
Over time this causes the soft tissues of the body to tighten or degenerate
thus affecting the alignment of the bones and the structure of the body.
The main causes are personal habits, repeated movements or even poorly
used or designed furniture that we repeatedly use, such as car seats,
office chairs etc.
Tui Na massage is useful to help release
the pain from bad posture, however the cause needs to be acknowledged
and addressed for permanent relief. Otherwise short term relief from
pain medication or massage will be needed repeatedly
- can cause held tension in the abdomen, diaphragm or chest all of which
can effect breathing, energy levels, digestion, menstrual cycle and
many other factors. The chest might be very tight with constriction
of the inter costal muscles between the ribs making getting a full lung
of air difficult. Whilst not life threatening, it can over time lead
to a more limited life, where the illusion of being unfit is actually
limited breathing from some source.
Emotions - can also cause tension in the abdomen, diaphragm
or chest, with all the physical symptoms above. Unresolved emotions
can be classified in Chinese medicine as, expressed, repressed and suppressed;
expressed emotions are when one emotion overwhelms and keeps on being
expressed without control ie crying or anger etc. Suppressed emotions,
are when the emotion is known by the person, but they cannot express
it. Repressed emotions are not known to the person.
Applying the right tool to the situation for you is important. For some
people talking therapies such as counseling, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy
can be useful. Others find Tui Na massage and Acupuncture helpful.
Can I Do?
activity which focuses on breathing can be useful. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi
Gong, Pilates etc. However if you can practice breathing exercises regularly
in addition to other activities, it is most beneficial.
If you see a practitioner, be sure to talk about any problems you have
with breathing as it is so important.
are two links to Qi Gong exercises and a brief talk by Jeffrey Yuen
that can be very helpful for improving breathing technique. Click here
site may contain information on medical and health-related topics. This
information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided
by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not
use this information for diagnosing a health problem or disease but
should always consult your own physician.