Breathing Lessons

yoga3We may not be aware of it, but we breathe at a rate of 15 times per minute. When we are happy, we breathe in a rhythmic, deep and slow manner; when we are sad, we do so in a tense or depressed, gasping, sighing, shallow, fast and uneven way. Actually, we can control our breathing. A closer look at how nature designed our bodies reveals that man was meant to breathe primarily with his diaphragm, not his ribcages and clavicles.

Laziness, ignorance, smoking, pollution, constipation, and other factors have turned us into shallow chest breathers. Chest breathing uses the intercostals muscles between the ribs to forcibly expand the upper ribcage, lowering the air pressure in the chest so that the air enters by suction. This process leaves the lower lungs immobilized. Nothing is wrong with this, except that it takes about three times more of chest breathing to get the same amount of air into the lungs one can get from a single diaphragmatic breathing.

Clavicle breathing is even far worse than chest breathing. The clavicles of the collar bones are used to open up the upper portion of the lungs. Those with asthma or emphysema try to pant or breathe rapidly to get sufficient quantities of air pumping in the narrow little top pockets of the lungs controlled by the clavicles. This affects the heart which has too rapidly pump more blood through the lungs to compensate for the small surface area covered by the clavicle breathing.

We also do some clavicle breathing every time we are anxious or stressed out. Irregular, tense breathing can be caused by and lead to disorganized mental activity and chaotic thinking patterns, as well as physical, emotional and mental disease. Next time you feel uptight, change your breathing pattern. Take a few abdominal breaths, hold for a few seconds, then exhale long and slow. Your anxieties will melt away! Unfortunately, most of us forget how to do abdominal breathing.

Balanced Breathing

Two hemispheres of are responsible for different abilities and characteristic mode of expression of human individuality. The right side of the brains assumes the responsibility for the spatial, artistic, holistic, intuitive, and psychic side of our conception. The left side is responsible for our logical, rational, and analytical faculties and sequential and linear mode of the thoughts.

The left brain has the centers for verbal communication – reading, writing, talking and hearing. Our formal education uses more verbal than non-verbal communication, making much use of the left side of the cerebral lobe. The left side has the qualities of competitiveness, selfishness, and aggression or the male (yang) energy. The right side has the feminine (yin) qualities of love, compassion, and nurturing. Alternate breathing, or inhaling in one nostril as we close the other nostril with our finger, stimulates the opposite of the brain. This means that when we inhale through the right nostril, covering the left nostril, we stimulate the functions or qualities of the left side of the brain. Balance breathing through the right and left nostrils creates a balanced personality.

Dr. I.N. Rega, an EENT specialist in Bucharest, Romania conducted studies concerning nasal obstruction. One such study involved 200 patients suffering from one-sided nasal obstruction due to distortions and malformations of the nasal septum since birth. Dr. Rega found that 87% of those patients whose breath flowed predominantly on the left nostril suffered a higher than average incidence of a wide variety of respiratory disorders, including chronic sinusitis, middle and inner ear infections, partial or total loss of  the sense of smell, hearing and taste, recurrent pharyngitis, laryngitis and tonsillitis, chronic bronchitis, and bronchiectasis.

He found that they eventually were more likely to suffer from one or more of these disorders; amnesia, intellectual weakness, headaches, hyperthyroidism (with associated irritability), cardiopulmonary weakness (manifesting in palpitations asthma-like-attacks, and chronic heart failure), insufficiency of liver and gallbladder, persistently altered cellular constituents of the blood and lymphatic fluid, chronic gastritis and enter-colitis (with symptoms  of heartburn, gastric reflux, peptic ulcer and constipation), sexual and reproductive disorders (symptoms of dimunition of libido, menstrual irregularities, and diminished virility).

Twenty-six-percent of those whose breathing flowed predominantly through the right nostril were found to be predisposed to arterial hypertension and it’s numerous consequences.

Breathing Techniques

In his commentaries on the Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu, the second great Taoist master aster Lao Tzu, explains how the vital energy can flow through the body, giving its multiplicity of the benefits. “(Those) who attain longevity with the management (of breath), who forget all things and yet possess all things; whose placidity is unlimited, while all things to be valued attend them – such men pursue the way of heaven and earth, and display the characteristics of sages”. The whole body must be involved in the breathing process as this makes the blood circulate better, bringing oxygen to the extremities. To do so, a person can either use his mind to mobilize and bring the breath to the different vital energy centers along the spinal column or he can use movement. By doing Hatha yoga, chi kung or tai chi chuan exercises, a person mobilizes his energy around the body. It is said that men of ancient times used their heels to breathe.

Breathing through the heels is done standing with your feet apart as wide as your shoulders. Raise your arms forward as high as your shoulders while you inhale. Get the energy from the heels, by pushing your arms up against the pressure from the ground. This brings the energy you have gotten from the earth up the legs to the body and finally your arms. Exhale and press your hand down. The breathing must synchronize with the movement of your arms.

For asthma attacks or difficulty in breathing, do some deep abdominal breathing, as well as the following simple but effective breathing technique, which helps the constricted bronchioles of asthmatic patients.

Lie down on your back, your body straight. Put your palms on the floor, besides your body. Bring your legs together and relax your legs. Look straight forward. Exhale all the air from your body through the mouth in a continuous manner, as fast as, when you are whistling. The abdominal muscles should contract when you are exhaling.

Inhale slowly through the nose, expanding the abdomen. Keep the air in while stretching the toes forward, tightening the legs. Pull the stomach inwards and keep your hands stretched. There should be a mild tightening of the whole body. Hold this position for three to four seconds during the first week. Gradually increase to six to eight seconds during the second and third weeks. Retain air as long as it is comfortable for you. Then exhale again through the mouth. Repeat the exercise during inhalation. You can do three repetitions for the first time, gradually increasing, but don’t do over five repetitions. The stomach must be empty when doing this.

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In Remembrance of CORY

MrsPresidentCory4_filesIn August 1, 2009, as early as 3:18 am, my president, Mrs.President Cory Aquino passed away due to cardio-respiratory arrest after an 18 month of battle with colon cancer. She was 76.

I know that Cory passed away happy and satisfied, cause she had her children and countrymen with open eyes a clear mind of what democracy is. Her mission of toppling the Marcos regime and retaining democracy was well-done and after her presidency, as a private citizen, she continuous to battle the ones who abuse democracy. She is a true “democratic icon” not only in our nation but the world.
And even the event of her passing away, she awakens, she rocks and reminded us not to put into languish what she started fighting for. Her death awakens me and I hope it does to others.

I do not know how to thank her and Ninoy, but I think the only the way I could thank her is to continue maintaining the democracy she and Ninoy brought us. Bringing back democracy becomes her life and to maintain it, I know will make her happy wherever she is.

She is truly the Mother of Democracy, the nation’s mother.

She is a true heroine, a perfect example, and a religious icon too.

I got no words to described and how to thank my president, but I will offer all my respects to her till my last breath and hopefully maintain what she had been fighting for, so that I can proved to her and Ninoy that “WE ARE WORTH IT”.