Learning to Breathe Your Way to Health

Living a 9-5 existence in the office plus the constant demands at home puts even the most positive person under considerable stress and anxiety. At the office, a typical career executive or a rank-and-file employee would have to juggle between one task to another. Often under time pressure, office workers try to beat the clock and turn in quality outputs every single day. Just imagine the hustle and bustle that goes on at the floor of the stock market at nine o’ clock in the morning on a busy Monday. Try to think of the hassles encountered by a kindergarten teacher that is in charge of at least 10 four and five-year olds. Or try to even begin what a day is like for an emergency room doctor in a crime-ridden inner city hospital.

Coping with anxiety is not a phrase or term that is supposed to be heard only from yoga practitioners or peaceniks. In fact, every single person in the world today must learn to develop this life skill. Dealing with stress on an daily basis is called a life skill because of the enormous impact that pressures at work and at home have on our mental, physical, and emotional health. Overcoming depression is now seen not just as a form of emotional fortitude but a capability much like being able lift a set of barbells. Getting rid of the blues is a form of intellectual and emotional strength that must be developed by people through conscious and constant practice.

But how does a person actually strengthen his or her emotional core? Aside from having a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and rest, and being generally positive about life — people should start to breathe correctly. Yes, proper breathing should be learned. So many people actually go through life without knowing how to properly breathe. Breathing is supposed to be a very natural action that can be done without thought. Still, many fail to get enough oxygen and do not get the relaxation that should come from proper breathing.

So, how does one breathe properly?

Many Eastern meditation techniques prescribe the proper form of breathing. Aside from maintaining a straight yet perfectly relaxed body, it is also important to learn how to breathe in deeply and inhale in such a way that the stomach expands as a result of the intake of air. Exhalation, on the other hand, must lead to the deflation of the stomach. The correct breathing pattern does not cause tension on one’s shoulders or rib cage. Dr. Mehmet Oz, a medical doctor and frequent guest in the Oprah Show, had this to say about proper breathing:
“If you’re inhaling with your rib cage, you are not taking in air as much as you could if you inhale with your diaphragm. When you exhale, you should allow your diaphragm muscle to move up to push the air out.”

While some people who are diagnosed with certain emotional or psychological disorders may need to take anxiety medication it has been established through research that those who breathe properly through regular meditation experience a higher level of emotional stability than those who do not practice good breathing techniques.

So, instead of fretting all day long, we can all try to go back to the basics of how to put in more air into our system. Air is life and proper breathing is definitely the way to have more of it.