Tuesday, 29 October 2013 14:45

Healthy Choices: Breathing... and You

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How often have you been told to take a deep breath? You may have even muttered it to yourself once or twice. Generally, an individual can go months without food or several days without water, but only minutes without air. Basic survival aside, breathing has a variety of different effects on the human mind and body that are beneficial to your overall health and wellness.
Many cultures have long known that deep breathing is a natural and simple form of relaxing and cleansing the mind, body and soul. Touted by original yoga practitioners as the source of life, breathing has become an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle.

Breathing releases tension, stress, anxiety and relaxes the body. When you take a deep breathe inward, you can instantly feel the rush of calm surge through your entire body. For just a few brief seconds, you lose every ounce of stress, tension and anxiety. As the last few generations have changed, we have become accustomed to an unbearable amount of stress in our daily lives. Unfortunately, we do not realize the internal chaos that we have created for ourselves. Many of us go through each day with a certain numbness to the internal push/pull that is tugging at our chest. Personally, I have found myself in very stressful situations. Fortunately, over time, I have realized the true impact that breathing has had on every aspect of my life, for myself, my family, my clients, and my career.

Breathing Exercises

Schedule a time, three times throughout your day, that you can take five seconds to focus, take a deep breath, and slowly exhale. When planning the task, make sure to think about your daily routine and choose time periods when that you tend to feel the most stressed, anxious and tense. Then, set a reminder on your phone so that when the time arises, you are focused solely on breathing.

"Many times throughout the day, certain situations may trigger an automatic response of taking a deep breath; this reaction serves as an amazing, natural defense mechanism. Fear, shock, stress or anger are a few examples of instances in which the body may automatically react by taking a deep breath."

Breathing releases toxins and strengthens the immune system by promoting circulation. The process of inhaling and exhaling has a direct, two-fold impact on the entire circulatory system. First, it increases the rate of circulation. When vascular circulation is increased, it more readily feeds and nourishes every organ and cell within the human body, resulting in a healthier internal system, stronger bones and muscles, and regulated cell turnover. Second, it provides necessary and adequate oxygen to the blood. Low oxygen levels in the blood cause the vessels to narrow and the heart to pump harder and faster than normal. Low blood oxygen levels can also affect memory, mood, motor flexibility, endurance, coordination and attention span; it may also cause an increase in stress and anxiety.
For a more advanced form of breathing, incorporate some type of movement into your breathing exercises. For example, stand up and press your palms together with your hands hanging straight down in front of your thighs. As you take a deep breath in, separate your hands and lift your arms straight out to your sides and up above your head so that you end with your arms straight up and palms together directly above your head. Hold that position for one second and then slowly exhale as you bring your arms directly back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise three times, twice a day. For another advanced breathing technique, sit on the floor with your legs crossed. Next, place the pads of your fingers gently, yet firmly on your temples and breathe. Then, take a long deep breathe in and slowly exhale. Repeat this exercise three times.

Many cultures have long known that deep breathing is a natural and simple form of relaxing and cleansing the mind, body and soul. Touted by original yoga practitioners as the source of life, breathing has become an integral part of living a healthy lifestyle.

Breathing releases both emotional and physical pain and tension. This effect is critical and powerful. We spend our days caring for our clients and although our focus is the health and condition of their skin, we are directly impacted by the physical and emotional baggage they bring along to their appointments. By increasing circulation, blood flow and oxygen, breathing instantly allows the body to begin to relax and relieve tension and pain. In many cases, emotional strain, pain and tension are the influencing factors of physical pain and tension. However, even physical pain and tension due to injury and illness can debilitate the best of us. In any case, a few slow deep cleansing breaths can temporarily ease the pain and tension. What you will also find interesting is that the act of taking a few deep cleansing breaths brings to your attention the amount of tension and pain you have most likely begun to take for granted and ignored. Over the years, I have learned that I am the only one that is going to make myself better; the same applies for you. You are the only one that is going to make you feel better. So take a moment, sit back, and just breathe.

michelle-dallairdMichelle D’Allaird is a New York State licensed aesthetician and International CIDESCO Diplomat. She is the owner of the Aesthetic Science Institute aesthetic schools in Syracuse and Latham, N.Y. She is a consultant and educator for international cosmetic companies around the world. D’Allaird is a contributing author to major industry trade magazines, as well as a host and speaker for International Congress of Esthetics & Spa conferences in Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas and Long Beach. She is also a co-author of Salon Fundamentals aesthetic textbook. Her expertise lies in education and curriculum development for aesthetic, medical and laser courses.

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