Creative Commons License photo credit: shawnzrossi

What part of you is only 1% to 3% of your body’s mass, yet uses 20% of all the oxygen you breathe? Your brain!

Your brain needs a continuous supply of oxygen. A 10 minute loss of oxygen will usually cause significant neural damage. (Note: Cold can lengthen this time, which is why cold-water drowning victims have been revived after as much as 40 minutes – without brain damage.)

The amount of oxygen you get influences the state of your body and your brain. If the amount and quantity of air that reaches the lungs, and from there inside each and every organ and tissue, is low, than the body and the brain will not function at its normal rate.

If breathing has such great importance for the body and the brain, why are we not giving it the importance it deserves. Most of us breath on auto-pilot and are not even aware of the fact that we are breathing!

So how do we breathe efficiently?

Step 1: Ensure that you breathe in more oxygen. Simple steps will ensure that.

  1. Inhale and exhale deeply (as opposed to short or shallow breaths). Did you know that inhaling deeply starts by exhaling deeply? Breathe out deeply, almost emptying the lungs. The next inhalation will be automatically deeper than the previous one. Proceed, building a gradual rhythm until you are breathing deeply at a comfortable pace.
  2. Focus on the breathing process entirely and avoid all other distractions.
  3. Keep the back and the shoulders straight.
  4. Ensure that the surrounding environment is clear of toxins like smoke, strong incense or fragrance or any other strong odours.
  5. Did you know that deep breathing at night, in an area surrounded by many plants, may not be that advisable? Why is that? Plants breathe in oxygen at night and breathe out carbon-dioxide. At night, when you breathe in deeply in an area of dense plant foliage, you inhale more of carbon-dioxide than oxygen.
  6. Breathe through your nose (and not through your mouth) as the nose filters the air, warms (or cools) it and humidifies it as well.

Step 2: Ensure that your body absorbs more oxygen from the air you breathe in.

Not everything you breathe in is absorbed by your body. A few pointers on ensuring that the body absorbs the oxygen you provide.

  1. Breathe deeply and slowly. This will give the lungs enough time to absorb the oxygen in the air you breathe in.
  2. Breathe through your nose. Nose breathing naturally slows the exhale because the nostril offer more resistance to the breath than the mouth.

Yogic breathing teaches us about holding the breath. However, that is to be practiced only under proper training and supervision as it has undesirable side-effects when not done correctly. Deep breathing without holding the breath provides us enough benefits when done consistently.

Worried about having no time? Short sessions of deep breathing yield amazing results. One round of 10 deep breaths should take just a few minutes and yet feels amazingly refreshing. Try a deep-breath break before you start a blog post or a research paper or a presentation. Your body and your brain will thank you for it.

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