Breathing For Better Health

in Breath

Life cannot exist without breath. As our lungs inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, every cell in the body must inhale nutrients and exhale wastes. The quality of our respiratory breath affects every process in the body, down to the cellular level.  

Inhale is energizing part of breath, so if you are feeling sluggish, draw in a bit more breath.  

Conversely, the exhale promotes relaxation. When you're feeling stressed emphasize your out breath. Be careful not to extend the exhale too long as that can prompt anxiety, particularly if you are high strung.  

The breath can create a wave inside the body that massages muscles from the inside out, and that's very effective. Without exaggerating, take a slightly bigger inhale and see if you can get all of your ribs to move. First put your hands under your armpits. Can you feel the ribs move into your hands? Now feel your upper back and get your breath to move there. Take some time to work the breath between your shoulder blades and ribs, where most of us feel a lot of tension.   

See if you can direct the wave to all parts of your chest, front, back, sides, top, and bottom. Then relax to let the wave travel further. Can you feel a subtle sensation inch into your pelvis and down your legs, or even down your arms and up your neck?  

Here's another valuable breathing lesson. As you inhale, let the breath gently fill your chest first then move down to soften your belly. At the first part of your inhale expand your upper ribs, in the middle of the inhale expand your lower ribs, at the last part of the inhale direct the breath into your belly.  Start each exhale with a slight contraction of your pelvic floor. Then continue the slight contraction from your pubic bone to the navel as you exhale so your lower abdominals contract on the first part of your exhale and the upper abdominal muscles contract on the second half.  With the next inhale, let your belly soften again. Continue the cycle of small contraction from the bottom up on exhale and expanding and softening from the top down on inhale.  

Just five minutes a day of conscious breathing exercises will improve the baseline for your physical and mental well-being.  If you don't have time for a formal breath practice, you can use these techniques whenever you feel stressed or lethargic to bring more equilibrium to your system.

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Anita Boser has 1 articles online

To learn how to take care of your muscles and regain your vitality, visit Anita Boser is a Certified Hellerwork Practitioner, Professional Structural Integration Practitioner, yoga teacher, and author of "Undulation Exercises." You can read her weekly blog articles at

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Breathing For Better Health

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This article was published on 2010/03/30