Did you know that you breathe approximately 11,000 litres of air per day?
This sheer quantity is indicative of how vital oxygen really is for our health. Fulfilling a fundamental requirement for life, oxygen is involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate – the ‘energy currency’ that powers our body. We die very quickly without it.
Indirectly, oxygen is also implicated in the acid/base balance of blood. After a cell uses oxygen to generate ATP, oxygen is ‘blown out’ in the form carbon dioxide and exits the body via the lungs during exhalation. When we do not breathe adequately, carbon dioxide can accumulate in the blood, inhibiting optimal oxygen intake and increasing blood acidity.
The lowest third division of our lungs is innervated by a richer blood supply than the upper regions. Incidentally, this lower region also contains the air that is expelled at the end of an exhalation. Even on a full exhale, we cannot completely breathe out all old air as our lungs would collapse without the pressure exerted by the remaining gases. When we breathe shallowly, quickly or improperly, an excess of this older air circulates at the bottom of our lungs. Consequently, our bodies are deprived of optimal oxygen, energy levels decrease and our bodies have to cope with an acidic environment. Therefore breath work is vital to any healing equation. Whilst there are many excellent books available on breath work, awareness of a few simple techniques that can improve your well-being. Take some time out of your day to focus on your breath:
- Inhale deeply and fully through the nose
- Allow your diaphragm and stomach to swell
- Completely fill the lungs
- Exhale through the mouth
- Release air from the chest
- Deflate your diaphragm