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

Breath of Life (part two)
By Angelika Christie
Nov 3, 2006 - 10:29:31 AM

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Breath of Life (Part two)

You may have looked for this article last week, yet did not find it; well, I took a “breather”. I guess I exhaled too long and missed the deadline….my apologies; but now let’s continue on our journey into the “health-breath connection”.

The inhalation is considered the active part, while the exhalation is the passive part of the breath cycle. Every exhalation relaxes your muscles and tissues, bringing your whole body to a resting point, a pause before the active part of the next inhalation resumes. That way the exhalation is lengthened, and allows oxygen to enter your blood stream.

Try it right now: inhale, and then release the air slowly…. Notice the pause, the “still point” at the bottom of your release. Feel how your shoulder drop, your facial muscles relax and soften…. You did not feel it? Do it again, bringing your awareness to your muscles and allow the relaxation to accompany your exhalation this time….

Good, you see how focus brings about results? Now allow the pause at the bottom of your out-breath to lengthen; just relaxing a few seconds longer, but do not strain; keep your relaxation through the holding. It helps to smile at that point! Now gently inhale again, allowing the air to enter your body by expanding your abdomen; this will automatically draw fresh air back in. Be aware of staying relaxed even through this active part of your breathing cycle.

How did this feel? A bit strange or odd? That means you should practice the new skill a few times daily until it becomes “second nature”. The health benefits are well worth it! You can actually test the level of your health by what is called the “control pause”.

The best time to do this is first thing in the morning after waking up, but before you jump out of bed. What you need is a clock with a second hand next to your bedside, or at least close enough that you can read the seconds. Here is what you do:

Sit up gently and relax for a moment, breathing shallow and easy; no anxiety please, this is not a test that anybody will judge you on. When you are ready, and after your next exhalation, take your thumb and index finger and pinch your nostrils, keeping your mouth closed. Now count the seconds you can hold your breath out without straining.

Don’t push yourself; the accuracy of the test depends on the time you can hold your breath out before you reach the threshold of discomfort. Keeping your mouth closed at all times, now inhale gently again. Try not to take in large gulps of air. I know, that there is a feeling that you must take a deep breath now; do not. Keep on breathing shallow and gently for a few minutes, and then take the “control pause” test again.

How did you do? Was there a feeling of panic creeping up while you held your breath out? If so, really relax at that point the next time, bringing your attention to your shoulders, allowing them to sink deeper, and relax the muscles in your face; remember the smile! You are not about to die! On the contrary, you are actively improving your health. It is a good idea to keep a pad and pen close to you. Write down the date and time of day, and how many seconds you held your breath. Remember, not holding your breath in, but out! I guarantee you, that with practice you will lengthen the pause, which will improve your health. You can do this at any other time of day, or evening. It does not take a lot of time, maybe 10 minutes. Just make sure you are in a quiet spot and undisturbed. And, of course, you need a stopwatch.

You may ask: what are the parameters here? According to Teresa Hale, founder of the Hale Clinic in London and New York, and over 45 years of empirical research in the effects of dysfunctional breathing and its cause of more than 200 respiratory related diseases. Her scale is the following:

A control pause of 50 to 60 seconds or more suggests that you are in excellent health. (Please, don’t try to push yourself to 60 seconds or above without a qualified health practitioner assisting. Remember, pushing yourself beyond your threshold of discomfort is not good)! Holding for 25 seconds means, that your health needs attention. If you can only hold for 10 seconds, or less, a serious hyperventilation problem exists, which may have already manifested itself in a respiratory problem, or some other illness. If your holding pause is anything less than 35 seconds, the exercises of lengthening and slowing down your breathing cycle are strongly recommended.

As a rule of thumb, just divide the seconds you can hold your breath out by 60 (being the ideal number which suggests excellent health). If your “control breath” was 20 seconds, dividing it by 60 gives you the number 3. That means, you are breathing three times as often as you should: you hyperventilate, and therefore seriously threaten your health. In other words: you are breathing for 3 people!

Who ever came up with the recommendation to breathe deeply, or taking in deep breaths and then pushing it out through your mouth! Consequently the exhalation is short and somewhat forceful; exactly what creates the problem of hyperventilation. No wonder we, in the West, are stressed with anxieties, nervous, circulatory, and various respiratory diseases amongst all the other even more deadly ones. Our brothers and sisters in the East are much healthier; they have never been told to breathe deeply. Even in Yoga, where the art of breathing is closely integrated into a daily practice, a deep breath is only part of an occasional, and specific exercise, but never a regular recommendation.

The right way of breathing cannot be learned by arguing, or discussions; it can only be mastered through practice and patience, and loving attention. Just see your breathing as a way of nutrition as well as a tool to control your mind. Our breath is a powerful tool for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual Well-Being; it is involved in every aspect of our life, every moment of our life. I will go so far to make the statement, that the right use of breath is the most powerful tool we have to create a life of health, creativity, joy and harmony. Isn’t this an awesome gift? It is free, and it is your birthright to use it to the fullest!

Until next week,
Your Partner in Health,

For more information, and upcoming workshops on breathing and other health building knowledge, contact me via E-mail at:
radiantcouncil@mac.com or call: 242.373.2357 or 242.359.5550 (cell)

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