Looking for a little inspiration? Learn these two techniques to increase oxygen flow to your brain and think a little clearer. It’s free, it’s fast and – best of all – you’re already equipped!r a little inspiration? Learn these two techniques to increase oxygen flow to your brain and think a little clearer. It’s free, it’s fast and – best of all – you’re already equipped!
The way that we breathe is so important to our health success. In fact oxygen is the number one piece of fuel that our cells need in order to carry out their various functions. You have trillions of cells and they are truly the building blocks of life. Therefore, we’re going to discuss why proper oxygen supply is important as well as give you some easy techniques you can use.
Anxiety, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain, high blood pressure, insomnia, and panic attacks are just a few of the conditions that are related to poor oxygen utilization.
You recall from the previous chapter that stress is the result of not properly adapting to a situation or perceiving our environment correctly and the body’s physiological response to that. With that said, it is possible to use breathing techniques to control our body’s physiology and these would benefit us by helping to offset the chances of acquiring or having the above conditions. In addition, better breathing can help to create and maintain more energy, improve the mobility of your joints and flexibility of your muscles, and help you have more clarity of thought.
There are a couple of trends in our culture that point us toward the necessity to really think about how we are breathing. One of them has to do with the health club, and the other has to do with Monday through Friday at your local high school.
For the health club, most people who go to a health club do so because they want to get in better shape. Most people will bring headphones or have an iPod to listen to while they’re doing some cardiovascular exercise before lifting weights if they so choose. Imagine this, you go to 24-Hour Fitness (like I do), and you sit on a stationary bike or run on a treadmill or stair-stepper for 10-15 minutes and right in front of you there’s a whole line of at least 10 TV’s. There might be four different programs playing among the TV’s –news on one channel, sports on another, an old sitcom rerun on another one, and then probably another news program on another channel with the words running across the bottom.
Question: how much of that news coverage is positive and stress-relieving? Probably less than half. For what percentage of that negative information can we actually do something? Probably way less than what we’re being concerned with. In other words,
if a thing is outside our ability to influence, maybe we shouldn’t be concerned by it in the first place. If you plug yourself into negative information at home you will likely feel a difference in the way your body works after a while –stress levels, breathing rate, etc…so when you’re at the gym cross train your mind and your body to be going in the same constructive direction and get rid of the contradiction.
As for high school life, there’s a lot of pressure to do and say and behave a certain way in order to fit in. Part of that pressure is to have a certain physique, which the “in” thing is to have a certain chest-to-belly-to-hips ratio which most people especially older children do not have and can’t have.
Consequently when kids and adults try to look a certain way they will try to breathe a certain way which of course is from the chest instead of the diaphragm. We use our lower neck muscles and chest muscles. The problem with this is that this doesn’t allow for the diaphragm to go down like it should and so less oxygen is taken in per breath. The worst part is that there is a trickle-over muscle memory effect that occurs when we aren’t in that social situation anymore and we continue to breathe shallower than we should.
Now let’s talk technique. The first one is called belly breathing, which means consciously only allowing our belly to move in and out –not our chest –while we breathe. So try this, right now:
Stand up tall or sit at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor. There should be a 90 degree relationship of your thighs to your lower legs. You’re going to start out with just a little air in your lungs and take the palm of one hand and place it one inch from your belly button. DO NOT MOVE YOUR HAND! Now breathe in through your nose as your belly moves outward and touches your hand. Hold your breath until it becomes uncomfortable and then breathe out through your mouth. Your chest and hand shouldn’t have moved.
Repeat the cycle two more times and stop. That whole exercise shouldn’t have taken more than one minute and if you will regularly do that three times a day (morning, noon, and night) you should notice an increase in your energy within a week.
Now, a very simple device that you can purchase (it’s only about $25) is something called a fit disc and at the time this is written the best kind of disc you can get is one called “J-Fit Disc”. The purpose of the fit disc is that when you place it on a hard chair and you sit on it it forces you to sit up straight and flex your paraspinal/postural muscles, which run longitudinally all the way down along your spine just like the strings on a guitar. As a result there is an easier passage of air into your pharynx or larynx down into the windpipe and lungs allowing your diaphragm to go downward and your belly outward.
The next technique is called “alternate nostril breathing”. Breathing through the left nostril helps to feed the right side of the brain which is the “feeling” part with oxygen, while breathing through the right nostril feeds the left side of the brain which is the logical part. Most of us will breathe through one nostril more than the other. So I’d encourage you to pay attention to which nostril you breathe out of more over the next few days.
Perhaps you are more of a thinker or a feeler and there’s a reason why! The following is an easy practice that you can do to help you become aware of which side of your nose you tend to breathe through and possibly improve your thinking and feeling abilities:
Put your right thumb over your right nostril and breathe in through your left nostril. Then plug your left nostril with your left thumb and breathe out through your right nostril. Then breathe in through your right nostril and repeat this several times. Don’t use your neck muscles for this exercise and try to only move your belly if possible. This practice can help improve your focus and, if you tend to be a very compartmental thinker and have difficulty relating things to the “big picture”, it can help by integrating the left to the right side of the brain.
Now you are inspired to be a better breather. You are armed with some techniques, a tool, and information that will help every cell in your body work better.