The Importance Of A Good Breath
Article by Chris Bricker
Most people know that a good breathing practice can mean the difference between good health and bad health. For those of you who didn’t know that, this article is for you.
As an individual becomes more and more familiar with the importance of breathing, he or she is bound to hear of Pranayama or yoga breathing and want to know some more information about it.
Pranayama is comprised of the phrases “Prana” meaning breath or life force, “yama” which means discipline or control and “ayam” which implies expansion. A usual translation of the meaning of pranayama is “expansion of the life force by means of breath control”. In other words, Pranayama is the set of breathing methods used for concentration, relaxation, as well as meditation.
The breathing process: we breathe in air and the lungs oxygenate the blood and in turn, the lungs expel carbon dioxide and different leftover gases from the blood. This process is known as alveoli. During exhalation, those gases are expelled. This process is subconscious / autonomic. Unfortunately in most people, these two processes don’t occur in an efficient and balanced way.
The purpose of Pranayama breathwork is to bring mental consciousness to the breathing process (inhalation and exhalation) with the intention of balancing the oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other soluble gas levels which are found in the blood. By using a conscious breathing process a person attempts to use his or her mind to control the body. Over time, a greater sense of mental control leads not only to more emotional control but also mental clarity and balance.
Another benefit of pranayama breathwork is that it increases both the efficiently and the amount of oxygen in the blood. Most individuals breath on the shallow side. As a result, a person does not maximize the benefits associated with taking long, deep breaths (this depletion of much needed oxygen happens all the more when someone is emotional or stressed). To put this in perspective, when a person breaths in a shallow manner, they are only using between 1/4 and 2/3 of their total lung capacity (the remaining portions of the lungs go unused). As you can imagine, when someone breaths fully and to their maximum this can translate to more that 50% more oxygen to the body… what a difference!
Finally, its important to remember that when breathing not all of the air is exhaled after inhalation. Especially in the case of shallow breathing where some of the air and waste carbon dioxide remains in the windpipe and lungs. As a result, the amount of space available for new oxygen is reduced. However, with a proper breathing technique this amount is greatly reduced thereby increasing the amount of oxygen in the body which leads to better health.
About the Author
Chris has been in the health field for more than 4 years helping to provide wellness information to people. Checkout his latest site for a discussion on the importance of the stability ball chair and yoga ball chair.