Take a Deep Breath Instead of Lighting a Cigarette. Part 2

by on Jul.19, 2012, under Tobacco

Your entire lungs are designed to be used in your vital breathing process. Unfortunately, most people only use about one-third of their lung capacity by breathing only with the top third of their lungs, and thereby robbing themselves of the benefits of complete breathing. Our posture, our chairs, our stress, or our poor breathing habits all can contribute to a chronic lack of life-giving, stress-relieving oxygen in our system. It is only during sleep that most westerners breathe properly, an indication of the relationship between breathing and relaxation.

Our breath also reflects our feelings and our state of mind. Fortunately, the connection between breath, feelings and mind can give us a great deal of relief from tension, anger, impatience, nervousness, depression or anxiety.

When we are angry, tense, nervous or stressed, our breathing is usually rapid and shallow, often using only the upper part of our lungs and chest. If we are greatly stressed, scared, startled or surprised, we may stop breathing or periodically hold our breath. These types of breathing alert our brain to initiate or maintain the “flight/fight” response to the cause of the stress. As you calm down, you may have a deep sigh or yawn as your breathing returns to a normal, deeper and more rhythmic pattern.

Learning breathing techniques can give you much greater control over your emotions and will prove to be an invaluable tool for craving management. Instead of waiting for your emotions — and then your breathing — to return to normal, you can bring your emotions under your conscious control by consciously controlling your breathing.

Healthy breathing starts with your nose, the apparatus that was designed to filter the air with the course hairs, mucous membranes and microscopic cilia within it. If you breathe with your mouth, you bypass your built-in security system that was intended to protect your respiratory system.

If you have sinus problems and cannot breathe through your nose, you can help to filter the air coming through your mouth by forming as small an opening as possible with your lips to let the air in, and letting the air flow over your tongue. That behavior is similar to drinking through a straw, and it is called “straw breath.”

As you inhale, fill your lungs from the bottom of your rib cage by relaxing your abdomen and allowing your stomach and rib cage to expand as you fill your lungs with air. If you imagine filling the middle of your back with air, you can help this process to happen. As you inhale, be sure to breathe at a comfortable rate of speed, not too fast or slow. Your inhalation should last from three to six seconds.

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