Here's a complete health system that uses just the power of deep breathing. I was made to think of this because of an old yoga book that I've been re-reading for the umpteen time. This book, I should tell you, is the first self-development book that I ever came across – over 30 years ago!
Anyway, this method links in with a lot of the more modern approaches to health and fitness that some of today's experts have adopted.
Let's get started.
A healthy bloodstream is key to a healthy body. It is responsible for transporting all of the oxygen and nutrients to all the cells in body. Having a fully functioning circulation system means a healthy body free from illness and disease. The captain of this system is breathing.
Let's look a little closer at this.
If you've been meditating for any length of time, or even if you're just making a start, you will know that the breath forms a cornerstone of many of an effective meditation practice. But it is also the way that you fully oxygenate the body and charge the electrical energy of every one of your cells.
Okay, nothing radical there, that's covered in a basic elementary biology class. But one fact that is not so well known is how your breathing helps drive the function of the lymphatic system. This is a critical network to consider when looking to achieve optimum health.
It is, for all intents and purposes, the body's sewer system.
The lymphatic system is crucial in maintaining good health and acts as a secondary circulatory network along the blood circulation system. Lymph is the fluid transported by the lymphatic system, and is a clear or slightly yellow fluid that originates as blood plasma leaked from the blood vessels.
The lymphatic system has several functions:
- Drains fluid back from the body tissues to prevent dehydration
- Fights infections and prevails invasion by bacteria, viruses, and fungi
- Recycles plasma proteins
- Filters the lymph fluid of waste
This system is so important to our health and well being that Gerald M. Lemole, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Christiane Health Services of Delaware, called it 'our river of life'. This river can be kept healthy through exercise, healthy diet, stress reduction, massage, and deep breathing.
Which is just about where we came in.
The lymphatic system is not closed, like the circulatory one, and it has no central pump like the heart.
Instead, this system is powered by the breath.
Any health system worth it's salt will, first and foremost, teach you how to fully cleanse your body through effective breathing. Effective breathing is characterized by deep inhale, pause at the end of the inhale to allow transfer of oxygen, and a slow exhale to ensure effective removal of toxins.
We can think of this breathing technique in a three stage cycle.
By using deep diaphragmatic breathing, a vacuum is created that effectively sucks the lymph through the blood stream. As oxygen content is key to healthy non-malignant cells, fully oxygenating your system would seem to be the number one priority.
This is one of the reasons that yoga focuses so much on healthy, deep breathing.
Here is the most effective breathing system for ensuring that your lymphatic system operates to full effectiveness.
1. Breathe in for one count
2. Hold this inhale for four counts
3. Exhale for two counts
So just remember those ratios. Inhale for 1, hold for 4, out for 2.
Those counts are relative to each other, you can use them simply as ratio guides. So in actual fact you may breathe in for 4 counts, hold for a count of 16, and then exhale for a full count of 8. That's okay, just follow the ratio guideline.
What you are doing, with this breathing pattern, is allowing enough time for cells to be fully oxygenated from the blood, and for toxins to be transferred back into the blood and lymph to be expelled.
When do I do this?
I suggest that you bolt this technique onto your meditation practice. That way you're not creating some new discipline that you need to make time for, it's already in place.
How long do I need to do the breathing system for?
I recommend 10 full cycles of the breathing system before you go into your meditation set. There is nothing to stop you completing 10 cycles and gradually increasing your awareness as you do so. This is what I've started to do and I'm finding it very effective day to day.
How can I remember to do this everyday?
As I recommended before, if you make this part of your regular meditation session, sometimes at the start, you fill in that find it integrates effortlessly into your schedule. You do not even have to think of it as a separate activity at all.
When you try your deep breathing just make sure that you breathe from the abdomen, get the stomach expanding completely on the inhale. After you have done the 10 cycles, let your breathing return to normal and allow your meditation to begin.