Correct Breathing

by Michelle Owen
Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesioligist (C.H.E.K L3)
Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach (C.H.E.K N.L.C L2)

generic_martial-arts_2Breathing is something that we do every day, at an unconscious level. For many people breathing is a very underestimated function and they are unaware of the importance of proper and correct breathing.

Let’s take look at the functions of breathing; Breathing provides oxygen for cellular metabolism and helps to maintain the acid alkaline balance in the body. Diaphragmatic breathing pumps cerebral spinal fluid to nourish and remove waste from the central nervous system.

Breathing moves life force, chi or energy throughout all parts of the body. These many important functions often become dysfunctional when people get busy, stressed or lose the optimal breathing pattern. When this happens breathing shortens and people become chest breathers rather than breathing from the diaphragm.

When you are a chest breather what happens is that all the repository muscles of the neck tend to shorten and tighten like taught wires. This can create all sorts of dysfunctions in the upper cervical area of the spine. As we breathe around 20,000 times per day, these muscles then get overworked and hypertonic (tight) when they are continually doing a job that they should not be doing. This can then cause the upper cervical spine to be pulled out of alignment creating headaches and tension in the upper back. Following this there is a domino effect of muscle imbalance that flows through the rest of the body.

Poor posture is another major influence that causes shallow and ineffective breathing patterns. Forward head posture is a extremely common dysfunction and places the body in an un-optimal position to breath deeply.

It is estimated that poor breathing plays a part in more than 75% of people visiting a doctor. Poor sleep is another factor. Quality breathing will help you achieve a better more restful sleep allowing you to wake in a more recovered state. Stress will also create shallow or chest based breathing patterns. When this happens the body can become acidic creating a catabolic state. When our bodies are in a catabolic state it does not have the ability to recover and repair.

So how should we breathe?
Breathing is the 2nd foundation principle, just behind thought and it is extremely vital to our health and vitality.

To breathe correctly we must breathe in through our nose and breathe deep into our diaphragm. This breath should not be excessive but nice and smooth, deep and flowing into the diaphragm.

As we breathe the tummy should raise. At the same time you should feel your sides and the back expand almost like an all round cylinder and the last place to move is the upper chest. The ideal pattern should be 2/3s diaphragmatic and the last 1/3 chest movement.

Breathing properly detoxifies and neutralizes the body. It brings us into an anabolic state where we can recover and repair. People, who can NOT breathe through their nose, need to look at food intolerances such as gluten and dairy. Food intolerances cause a inflammatory response and the body responds by producing more mucus, blocking up nasal passages . This is very hard on the immune system and should be addressed.

Breathing techniques go back many years with all sorts of Eastern style exercising, such as yoga’s, Tai Chi, Chi gongs. At the same time these training methods are used to quiet the mind.

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Six Types of Meditation

Six Types Of Meditation Sometimes you have to try different types of meditation to find the one that's right for you.

There are so many different types of meditation. How many? Who knows, but enough so that you can find the one that's right for you. To get your search started, here are six types of meditation you can try.

  1. Breath watching. Can meditating be as simple as paying attention to your breath for a few minutes? You bet. Relax in whatever position works best for you, close your eyes and start to pay attention to your breathing. Breathing through your nose gets your diaphragm involved and gets oxygen all the way to the bottom of your lungs. As your mind wanders, just re-focus your attention on the air going in and out of your nose. Just do this for several minutes, or longer as you get used to it.
  2. An empty mind meditation. Meditating can create a kind of 'awareness without object,' an emptying of all thoughts from your mind. The techniques for doing this involve sitting still, often in a 'full lotus' or cross-legged position, and letting the mind go silent on its own. It can be difficult, particularly since any effort seems to just cause more business in the mind.
  3. Walking meditations. This one gets the body involved. It can be outside or simply as a back and forth pacing in a room. Pay attention to the movement of your legs and breathing and body as you walk, and to the feeling of your feet contacting the ground. When your mind wanders, just keep bringing it back to the process of walking and breathing. Meditating outside in this way can be difficult because of the distractions. If you do it outside, find a quiet place with level ground.
  4. Mindfulness meditation. A practice Buddhists call vipassana or insight meditation, mindfulness is the art of becoming deeply aware of what is here right now. You focus on what's happening in and around you at this very moment, and become aware of all the thoughts and feelings that are taking your energy from moment to moment. You can start by watching your breath, and then move your attention to the thoughts going through your mind, the feelings in your body, and even the sounds and sights around you. The key is to watch without judging or analyzing.
  5. Simple mantra meditation. Many people find it easier to keep their mind from wandering if they concentrate on something specific. A mantra can help. This is a word or phrase you repeat as you sit in meditation, and is chosen for you by an experienced master in some traditions. If you are working on this alone, you can use any word or phrase that works for you, and can choose to either repeat it aloud or in your head as you meditate.
  6. Meditating on a concept. Some meditative practices involve contemplation of an idea or scenario. An example is the 'meditation on impermanence,' in which you focus on the impermanent nature of all things, starting with your thoughts and feelings as they come and go. In the Buddhist 'meditation on the corpse,' you think about a body in the ground, as it slowly rots away and is fed on by worms. The technique is used to guide you to an understanding that your rationalizing mind might not bring you to.

There are many other meditations you can try, such as the 'meditation on loving-kindness' or 'object' meditation, and even meditating using brain wave entrainment products. Each type has its own advantages and effects. For this reason, you may find that at different times and for different purposes you want to use several different types of meditation.

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Using Mala Beads (Rosary) for Meditation

What is a Meditation Mala?
A mala is a string of 108 beads with one bead as the summit bead called a 'sumeru'.

It is a tool used to keep your mind on the meditation practice. Malas are generally made from different materials such as tulsi (basil) wood, sandal wood, rudraksh seeds or crystal. Each type of material has certain properties which subtly affect the subconscious mind of the practitioner.

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Steps to Mantra Meditation

Mantra is one of the simplest, yet a very powerful method to achieve meditation. Why?

Mantra involves the rhythmic invocation of a sound. This provides a foundation for the aspirant so that his practice is just not "in the air". This anchor or foundation helps the mind to gradually disconnect with the external experiences provided through the 5 senses, which is the first step to successful meditation.

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The Chakras - The Seven Centres of Consciousness

A primary focus of Amrit Yoga is to build heat by charging the battery of the body, which is based in the lower three centers. As this energy is aroused and consciously directed from the lower chakras to the upper ones, our biological prana awakens to its evolutionary potential. Awakened prana, called Kundalini, carries out healing and cleansing at an accelerated level - resulting in the purification of the nerve channels in the body as well as cleansing kriyas - all of which prepare the body for accelerated spiritual development.

Chakra One: Roots, Alignment, Earth
Muladhara is the body in physical space and time, developing groundedness, stability and foundation. In Amrit Yoga, the attention is alignment in all poses, building awareness and strength in the legs - especially all standing poses. Anything that stabilizes and roots the foundation reinforces muladhara.

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