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Columns : Radiant Health - Angelika Christie Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

Breath of Life (part one)
By Angelika Christie
Oct 27, 2006 - 10:34:04 AM

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Breath Is Life (Part one)

Has anybody ever asked you: “How is your breath?” No, of course not. You may think that this is a ridiculous question; but is it? Surely we are not accustomed to hearing, or asking such a question, but let us explore why it may be very appropriate.

“How are you?” is what we usually ask; whether out of habit, or genuine concern, when we inquire about the general health of each other. We are concerned with the shape of our bodies, the comfort we have in our relationships, the satisfaction in our jobs, and maybe we are also concerned with our health, at least when we get older, or lack of energy. Even without being ill, good nutrition as a link to a healthy, long life has been greatly advertised, and so it must be on everybody’s mind to some degree.

Do we ever think about our breath? Yes, we breathe automatically, that’s why we can trust staying alive while we sleep, but we also have control over our breath in the conscious state.

As I mentioned in my previous article, I will make this statement here again:

Most of us hyperventilate! We also don’t allow our abdomen to soften and expand on our inhalation. Women often cringe when I point this out; expanding your belly is a definite “no-no”! We believe that the stomach has to be flat at all times, with the exception of pregnancy. Hmmm… men of course can let it all hang lose, or at least, they are not judged as severely for a moving, and relaxed belly. So, do men breathe better than women? That’s a good question. Maybe they do, but I don’t know and have not found an answer yet.

But let’s go back to breath basics. Why it is so important to pay attention to the breath? Look at the heading of my article; I state that ‘Breath Is Life’! You can go for days without water, even for weeks and months without food; but try to stop breathing for a few minutes….Exactly! Unless you are a “Yogi” and have mastered the “Mind over Body” control, you are like most of us, thinking we will surely die if we hold our breath beyond the “fear barrier”, which is usually less than one minute.

The breathing circle starts with the out-breath, which may be a surprise to you.

When you have consciously exhaled, the incoming breath should fill your diaphragm, which lies under your solar plexus in your upper belly. This means, that your belly expands first before you fill your lungs. I know, this sounds awkward to those who think that air just fills the lungs. If you can imagine air being drawn in, and your body being a soft vessel that receives it, it would go down first, and then filling you in its upward movement. On the out-breath, you slowly bring your abdomen back in, which automatically releases the air, directing it upwards and out.

In other simple words: In-hale­ =  vessel being filled, ex-hale =  vessel being emptied.

Try it now…. How does it feel? Maybe you did not even know how you normally breathe. Why do I think you hyperventilate? Hyper means “too much”, and ventilation means “breathing”. Because most of us breathe too fast, and so deprive our bodies of something it needs even more than oxygen: carbon dioxide, or CO2. Carbon dioxide is now known to be essential to every aspect of our health. By breathing more slowly and lightly, we do not lose as much of this essential gas when we exhale. When more CO2 remains in our blood, oxygen can be released more quickly and easily from the red blood cells. It is the exchange between CO2 and oxygen that greatly benefits and dramatically improves our general health.

Maybe your forehead is going into stress lines, and your head is slightly shaking in disbelief. Let me give you a visual picture: Visualize the most magnificent forest in your mind’s eye. .. What do these strong, healthy trees take from the air? Yes, it’s carbon dioxide (I know you knew that).  Because of this the trees are able to release oxygen. Smart. So you can see that there has to be sufficient CO2 in order to release oxygen.
The same principle applies to our bodies.

Putting it simply, when we over-breathe and take in too much air, we also breathe out too much carbon dioxide. What does this mean? The body is then unable to absorb the small, but essential amount of oxygen it needs for all interrelated systems to work properly.

The Russian Professor, Konstantin Buteyko, discovered that over-breathing is not only the cause of asthma and other respiratory ailments, but has also a causative effect in nearly 200 other disorders. For those who are interested in the application of breath control, and how it affects disorders, you may want to investigate the ‘Teresa Hale Clinic’, which is located in London, England.

This is a lot to swallow; that’s why I’ll keep this article short, and go a bit deeper into how we can control our breaths next week. In the meantime, I want you to become more aware of your breathing, and how you can use it to create better health for yourself.  Just give yourself a few breaks during the day, and do some conscious breathing. Allow your breath to go deep into your abdomen, expanding your belly. Slow down your breathing, especially your exhalation, and now you know why; namely to keep more of the precious CO2 in your breathing cycle, which will release more oxygen to your body.

You probably did not expect this kind of challenge from something that you hardly ever think about, your breath!

There is so much more to say about the breath-health connection. Did you know that you could control almost every function in your body? No, not with drugs, but with breath! You can lower your blood pressure; slow down your heart rate; eliminate, or control pain;lower your cholesterol; influence your insulin output; cool down, or heat up your body; and eliminate stress just to name a few.

So you see what a great tool you have to manage your health and well-being. Why don’t you hear much, if anything about the breath-health connection? Because nobody can patent it, and consequently, no money can be made with this. The best things in life have always been free.  Take control of your breath, or better, relax more when you breathe, deepening and lengthening your exhalations.

Until next week, when we go deeper into the breath,

Your Partner in Health,

For any questions, or workshop schedules, contact Angelika via E-mail at: radiantcouncil@mac.com , or call her at 242-373-2357 or 242-359-5550

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