How to Breathe for Better Health
The world’s best detox isn’t the latest diet, eating, exercise or a pill…it’s automatic, free and you’re doing it right now. It’s breathing in fresh oxygen, deeply and slowly. It’s one of the best tips to help you reduce your cancer risk, cancer cells are deoxygenated, they survive in the presence of no oxygen (Source). Breathing and controlling your breath is one of the easiest ways to improve your mental state and keep you physically healthy.
Some of the benefits of getting more oxygen into your body and maintaining high levels include: Oxygen cleanses the blood, improves digestion, memory, concentration, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, improves your skin, promotes healing and counters ageing. Research shows we’re not getting enough oxygen, and while it’s something we all do naturally, few of us have been taught how to breathe properly. Breathing badly invites illness and in our sedentary world people tend to have oxygen starved brains.
The way we breathe has a huge impact on our health and wellbeing and unfortunately it may surprise you to know many of us aren’t breathing properly (Source). Interestingly we get 90% of our energy from breathing in oxygen and just 10% from food and water. (Source) Most of us are only using about 20% of our full lung capacities (Source). This can really affect our energy levels and our ability to fight off illnesses.
“A lack of oxygen has been pinpointed as a cause of, or a factor contributing to, nearly all our degenerative diseases. This could in part explain our almost epidemic rates of cancer, heart disease and immune system malfunctions, to name just a few.” (Source)
Considering we take an average of 20,000 breaths a day and if we’re only using 20% of our lung capacities we’re not feeding our cells with the energy they need or power to heal. As an asthmatic, during my recovery from lymphoma learning to breathe properly was a really important factor, particularly when I learnt about the amount of toxins we breathe out. We release the most toxins from our bodies through breathing- 70% of toxins when we exhale (Source). If you want to live a healthy and energetic life, learning to breath properly is essential. If you’re feeling in need of a detox or after a fun night out, look no further than some of the methods below.
What do we mean by breathing ‘deeply’? So the best way to breathe is like a baby, expanding your full lung capacity, having your belly come out like a balloon and getting oxygen into the back rib cage. The thing is when we’re running around stressed, we breathe in our upper chests only. The exhale slows the heart rate and should be longer than the inhale.
The benefits of deep conscious breathing cannot be under emphasised. Why does this matter with detoxing? Oxygen helps your body absorb vitamins and minerals more efficiently, creating more white blood cells helping to speed up detoxification in the body but boosting the lymphatic system. The breath can be a preventative because a highly oxygenated body eliminates the chance of disease settling in. Breathing will help generate energy and detox the body.
Imagine you’re in a desert (anything to warm us up in February), in extreme conditions we can go three weeks without food, three days without water, but only three minutes without oxygen. One reason exercise feels good because we are getting more oxygen into our bodies. Many people think they don’t have time to focus on their breath for a few minutes each day, but if you can find the time for this amazing and refreshing healing it will be vital to your wellbeing. Learning to breathe properly has helped me control many situations when I’ve been worried about something or nervous, it can ground you and be calming.
Paying attention to your breathing for a couple of minutes each day will really help you detoxify, give you energy, relaxation and boost your immune system. There are lots of different breathing techniques so if you fancy it, do some research to find what suits you best. I’m going to share 3, these are great if you feel you need an energy boost or some quick relaxation. They’re best done outside or near a window so you’ve got fresh oxygen coming in. Preferably away from a busy road!
- Single nostril breathing, block one nostril off with your fingers and inhale through 1 nostril for a count of 6, then hold it for 7, switch nostrils and breathe out the other for a count of 8 while blocking the other nostril. First round may test your coordination. Aim to breathe deeply into the back of your ribs and don’t lift your shoulders.
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 10, hold it for 20 and then out for 20. You breathe out for longer to get rid of as many toxins as possible.
- My favourite is the 3-part yogic breath. Here you have your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your upper chest to inhale. This breath is in 3 parts- breathing in for a count of 3 and then out for 3, starting at your belly coming out like a balloon, then move to your rib cage then upper chest. Then exhale starting from your belly deflating, then rib cage, then upper chest.
Personal Care Manager
Sophie knows first hand the difficulties people face when they get a cancer diagnosis. As a trained journalist, after a lymphoma diagnosis at the age of 23 her research head went into overdrive. During an intensive six months of chemo she found having a focus and creating a multi-stage recovery plan gave her a real sense of determination. Realising there are big gaps in practical support in primary care and knowing there are things we can do to prevent and recover from cancer, she wants to share everything she’s learnt. Her belief is that in many cases cancer happens as a multi-stage process and to recover we need to be focusing on a number of different areas. While each individual is different, these include: diet, exercises, detoxification and cultivating a healthy mental attitude. She strongly believes we are three parts in synergy mind, body and spirit. An integrative cancer care approach combining conventional and other holistic treatments is important. Sophie hopes sharing information and having a conversation will empower people to take an active role in their health.
*The views shared in this post are not necessarily shared by the Victoria’s Promise Charity and are the independent writing’s of the author.