The key to cleansing your body through your breath is to develop conscious breathing. You clean your house with a broom and a mop but did you know you can clean your body with your breath?
What is conscious breathing?
Conscious breathing is a broad term that refers to methods that improve the breathing function, the process of moving air in and out of the lungs to bring in oxygen and flush out carbon dioxide. The human body is designed to flush out 70 percent of its toxins through the breath. While we have this potential, most of us use only one-third of our full breath capacity, leaving unnecessary toxins in our bodies. You wouldn’t just clean one-third of your house – why clean just one-third of your body’s internal cells?
Benefits of Conscious Breathing
Conscious breathing involves directing awareness to your breath and developing habits that deepen and control respiration. You can think of the breath as a muscle and like all muscles, it grows stronger with exercise. Conscious breathing supports all aspects of your physical, emotional, and mental health. The key to radiant health, glowing skin, an elevated mood, and more energy lies in using your breath more consciously. Conscious breathing is practiced in most yoga classes, and it is an integral part of all pranayama mediations. After you learn the techniques, you can apply them all throughout your day.
- It lowers your stress and anxiety.
Much of the medical community, including the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) recommend long, deep breathing as a way to manage anxiety and decrease panic attacks. Studies have also shown that long, deep diaphragm breathing decreases the stress hormone cortisol, the hormone that puts you in “fight, flight or freeze” mode. When your cortisol levels drop, you begin to move into a state of security and expansiveness. One of the first things you will likely notice when you begin practicing conscious breathing is that your stress and anxiety decrease. To lower stress and anxiety try the Ether Element: Ujjayi Breath in the Five Elements Series.
2) It detoxifies the body.
You can literally think of your breath as a broom for your cells. Toxins build up in our bodies from a wide range of things in our modern lives: the food we eat, the products we put on our skin, the air we breathe, the chemical reactions that happen in our bodies as a result of stress, just to name a few.
Your body is designed to release 70 percent of these toxins through breathing. When you exhale air from your body, you sweep out the carbon dioxide that has been passed through from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body’s metabolism. With conscious breathing it is like you are getting out a broom and sweeping toxins right out of your body. To detoxify the body try the Air Element: Diaphragmatic Breath in the Five Elements Series.\
3) It increases your energy.
The human body can go three days without water and three weeks without food but only three minutes without air. Oxygen is the element the human body needs the most, and it is the foundation of human life. Conscious breathing increases your oxygen supply which in turn boosts your energy. The more oxygen your pump into your system, the more you’ll experience this energy burst. You can also stimulate your energy levels to rise even more by breathing rapidly in a controlled way. To increase your energy try the Fire Element: Fire Wash Breath in the Five Elements Series.
4) It helps reduce pain.
Studies show that paced, or conscious, breathing can reduce pain. Controlled breathing helps to lower the blood pressure and heart rate making the pain experience less intense. This can be minor pain, like a headache, or more serious pain, like post-surgery recovery. To reduce pain try the Water Element: Three Part Breath in the Five Elements Series.
5)It increases your awareness leading to better decision-making.
While this is a more subjective benefit, it is actually one of the most important reasons to engage in conscious breathing. Anecdotal reports from coaches, wellness providers and practitioners themselves indicate that the practice of conscious breathing heightens awareness, helping you make better choices. The next time you are feeling overwhelmed at the grocery store and about to buy some junk food, pause a minute and take a few long deep breaths. This clears your mind and creates the space of choice, helping to guide you towards better long term decision-making. To increase your awareness try the Earth Element: Four Part Breath in the Five Elements Series.
Getting the most out of conscious breathing
Now that you know the wide spectrum of benefits, you might wonder “how do I get the most out of conscious breathing?” The key is to be consistent, and the good news is that your breath is free, and it is with you at all times. The average person breathes about 16 breaths per minute which means you will breathe over 23,000 breaths today. That’s 23,000 daily opportunities to improve your health.
Start by learning the techniques as outlined in the different breathing methods above. After you understand the exercises, try to incorporate them throughout your day. Feeling tired and sluggish? Do a few minutes of Fire Wash Breathing. Feeling anxious and stressed? Try a few minutes of Ujjayi Breath. With a bit of practice and focused intention, conscious breathing will be part of your regular day, and you can watch your health soar!