Saturday, January 5, 2013

The first medicine

Air is something we tend to take forgranted, unless we have some kind of breathing disorder. We hunch over, restricting our lung space. We breathe shallowly (especially when there's some kind of odor in the air, which is when we need MORE oxygen). We hold our breath and deliberately mess with the amount of air we get.

As humans we seem to think that breathing is just a thing we do, without considering the ramifications.

Too little oxygen results in headaches, disorientation, in some cases euphoria or dizziness. Ladies who wore corsets had to breathe more shallowly. They were often ill, they fainted a lot, they were more frail and seemed to have more psychological problems than their contemporaries who didn't wear corsets. There are other reasons, but not breathing enough was probably one of them. Bone problems, digestion problems, mood swings, all may be linked in one way or another to improper breathing over an extended period of time.

Take a deep breath. Let it out.

Breathe in deeper. Let your ribs expand sideways and your belly puff out. This is why your ribs aren't connected, to allow your lungs to expand. Deeper. Breathe in until you can't breathe in any more.

Feels strange, doesn't it? Now breathe in again but keep your ribs in place and don't let your diaphram work. Feel the difference? Probably much more familiar.

Very few people use the full capacity of their lungs. The blood rushes past the lungs, but if we breathe too shallowly there's nothing for it to pick up. If it doesn't pick up any oxygen, it just keeps moving and swings around for another try. Which means that for most people a large portion of the blood is doing nothing but moving in a big loop. Motion without meaning because it isn't carrying any oxygen to feed the muscles and cells.

Next time you feel anxious or worried (or angry), try breathing. Not to discomfort, but full deep breaths. Next time you get dizzy, try to determine if you were breathing correctly. If your eyesight is strange or you're feeling light-headed, check your breathing.

Air is the first medicine we should take, and in many cases a few deep breaths is all we will need.

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