Breathing is an action that accompanies all of us in every moment of the day and night, since our birth. Perhaps this is why, taken by the stress of everyday life, we often do not give to breathing much importance. But let's try to stop for a moment and pay attention to our breathing. How many times, during a difficult conversation, we found ourselves with bated breath, practically without breathing. How many business phone calls have we made while breathing only superficially? Yet, a few small tricks may really be enough to change our breathing and greatly improve life. In the next paragraphs we will see some ideas to be able to breathe better, but first let's try to understand the benefits of good breathing.
The Benefits of good breathing
An ancient Indian saying states that when the breath moves, the brain moves, and when the breath stops, the brain stops as well. Tradition has reached the result that science, centuries later, has come to, understanding that good breathing is able to support cognitive function, increasing concentration and attention (Saoji et al, J Ayurveda Integr Med, 2019). But it's not just brain health that benefits. In fact, abandoning shallow breathing for deeper breathing helps to expand the lungs and absorb oxygen more efficiently. And this fact is noteworthy. In fact, a few years ago a research was published that observed that cancer cells often proliferate in oxygen-free environments, given the rapid growth of the tumor that exceeds the speed with which it is supplied with nourishment and oxygen. The problem is that the T cells of the immune system, the cells responsible for recognizing and suppressing diseased cells, do not enter where oxygen is lacking, thus leaving the body defenseless. Well, it has been observed that increasing the amount of circulating oxygen also improves the oxygenation of the area affected by the tumor, thus allowing the cells of the immune system to access the region and attack the cancer cells (Hatfield et al, Science Translational Medicine, 2015). Not only that, good breathing helps to drive away fatigue, sadness and stress and therefore, as an additional effect, to counteract the levels of inflammation and support the immune system (Mulhaeriah et al, Int J Nurs Sci, 2018 - Michaels et al, Transl Lung Cancer Res, 2016).
Here are some simple exercises to practice every day to help us breathe deeper and less shallow and improve lung capacity. Sit comfortably, place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly, just under the ribs. Breathe in slowly through your nose, watching how your belly swells. Only the hand resting on the belly should rise, while the hand on the chest must remain stationary. Then, exhale through the mouth, contracting the muscles to force the air out. Alternatively, another exercise that can be performed while sitting, standing or walking is the following. Inhale slowly and deeply, counting to four in your head. Hold the air for a count of four, slowly exhale for a count of four. Finally, keep your lungs empty by always counting to four. Repeat this sequence a couple of times.
Essential oils to relax the diaphragm
The essential oils of rosemary and sweet orange, given their calming and antispasmodic action, help relax the diaphragm, a very important muscle for breathing (Heghes et al, Molecules, 2019). Sometimes, mostly due to stress, this muscle stiffens and the result is shallow breathing. Pour two drops of rosemary essential oil into a tablespoon of sunflower or sweet almond oil and massage the area under the rib cage. You can do the same with sweet orange essential oil. In this way, you can help the diaphragm to relax and thus perform its function better. The result will be an extra contribution to an improvement in the quality of breathing.
It may happen that asthma, induced by allergies to external substances such as plants or dust, can prevent good breathing. In this case, natural remedies can help prevent asthma attacks. For example, extracts of schisandra fruits, scientific name Schisandra chinensis, have an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-asthmatic and anti-allergic action. In fact, these extracts contain lignans, including schisandrine, which fights inflammation, free radicals but also helps to reduce substances called Immunoglobulins E, or IgE, antibodies responsible for the allergic response. Not only that, even ginger can be of help in case of asthma since it acts as a bronchodilator and relaxant of the muscles of the airways (Townsend et al, Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol, 2013).