If there was only one yoga exercise I would teach you, it would be the Long Deep Breathing. From the time we are born until we leave this world we are breathing. We can´t survive without breathing. When we are babies, we automatically breathe the way we are supposed to breathe. We breathe long and deeply, from the belly up to the chest. As time goes by we get affected by our surroundings, family, friends, school, work, stress and so on. The breath becomes shallow and not as deep as it should be.
This causes some problems. Our cells don´t get the oxygen they need and our body and mind are not fully working as well as they should.
So what does the breath really do? Why is it good to breathe long and deep? And how do we do it?
When you inhale deeply the air goes from your nose (or mouth) to your lungs and reaches the alveolus that look like a cluster of grapes. There are around 300 millions of them. Here is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. From the alveolus oxygen is transfered to the blood. And the blood transfers oxygen to the cells. Your cells can then do the job they need to do to keep you in a healthy state. Every breath consists of 20% oxygen, but only 4 % will actually be absorbed in your body. The deeper you breathe, the more air arrives to the alveolus. The oxygen is used as fuel in the cells, the by product is then carbon dioxide. Receptors in the brain measure the level of carbon dioxide and the pH-level in the blood and send a signal to the lungs that it´s time to inhale again. Carbon dioxide leaves the body when you exhale, from the cells through the blood out to the alveoulus in the lungs out through your nostrils or mouth. This is just a simple explanation of how it works, the breathing system is a complex network of cooperating factors.
Long and deep breathing:
· creates relaxation
· gives you clarity and patience
· reduces toxins and mucus from the lungs
· stimulates a chemical balance in the brain
· regulates the pH level in your body, you become more alkaline
· increases the spinal fluid to the brain
· counteract depression
· reduces insecurity and fear
· affects the pituitary gland
· is a very good tool when you have pain!
And a lot more…
How you breathe the Long Deep Breathing – The Complete breath
It´s good if you lie flat on your back when you´re learning this breathing technique the first time. Place one hand on the navel point and the other hand on your chest, the rib cage, so you can feel the movements when you breathe. In Kundalini Yoga you always inhale and exhale through your nostrils unless you get other instructions. (It prevents the particles from the air reaching your lungs and keeps the air moist and warm) We breathe around 12-14 breaths per minute, and by using the Long deep Breathing technique it´s possible to get to breathing only one breath per minute! Give it a try!
The Long Deep Breathing, the Complete Breath, is the foundation in Yoga and it consists of three parts that together becomes the Long Deep Breathing:
Inhale steadily through the nostrils, filling the lower part of your lungs first. Your abdomen will expand, feel it with your hand. Hold the breath and then exhale, and the abdomen sinks down again.
2. Chest, ribcage
Inhale and fill the middle part of the lungs, pushing out the lower ribs, breastbone and chest, feel with your hand that the ribcage is expanded. Hold the breath and then exhale.
Put your hand on the chest close to the collarbone. Inhale deeply, fill the next highest part of the lungs, expanding and lifting the upper chest, and the upper six or seven pairs of ribs and collarbones. Hold the breath and then exhale.
Now: put these three parts together so it becomes only one smooth, continuous motion - the Long Deep Breathing:
Inhale through the nostrils, fill the lower part of the lungs, expand the abdomen. Continue to inhale and fill the middle lungs and feel that the chest is expanding and the abdomen is sinking slightly. Continue to inhale and fill the upper lung and feel the collarbones lifting a little bit. Then take a pause and exhale in reverse order: first the collarbones sink down followed by the chest and at last the abdomen. After you have exhaled wait a couple of seconds until you inhale again. Let the body decide when it´s time to inhale again.
If nothing else is said, this is the breathing technique you use in the yoga exercises, the rests between them and in meditation.
Try to breathe long and deep as much as you can throughout the day. You can do it wherever you are: On the bus, in the line at the supermarket, before going to bed as a relaxation...
Here is a video instruction.
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Helen Kåselöv is a yoga teacher and yoga therapist and the founder of Healing from within with yoga & food (former Yoga for Endometriosis & Pelvic pain). Helen has a history of severe endometriosis and is today helping women with endometriosis, PCOS, uterine fibroids and other pelvic pain online, with yoga, nutrition and other lifestyle changes. Using yoga both as a tool in different kinds of healing programs, pain management, yoga has become the foundation in her work. “Yoga can help you in so many ways: Physically, mentally, spiritually and as a personal development tool.”