Did you know…that by learning how breathe better you can relieve stress, tension, and even boost energy levels?
If you suffer from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) or experience shortness of breath or notice you’re coughing daily – these 5 simple ways to help you breathe better, will have you quickly breathing a sigh of relief (pun not intended).
Your lungs are a marvel of human engineering, every time you breathe in fresh air – it’s pushed into tiny air sacs (called alveoli), where fresh oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream. If the 600 million alveoli in the lungs were stretched out they would span an entire tennis court.
Now take a deep breath.
When you inhale air, your diaphragm contracts and flattens out.
Your diaphragm makes room for your lungs to expand. Your rib muscles also lift the ribs up and out to give your lungs even more space. In a marvel of human engineering your left lung is smaller than the right, to cradle your heart and make space for it to beat comfortably.
Now that you’ve felt your lungs expand – what you’ve really felt is the astounding power of your alveoli.
It’s not just breathing that’s the main job of your lungs.
Every time you have a conversation, shout for joy, sing, laugh, run, and even cry your lungs work in perfect synch with your brain to help you inhale and exhale large amounts of air.
When You’re Sad or Grieving Your Lungs Feel It
Expressing sadness and grief by crying involves the entire respiratory system. It takes real energy including our nose, throat, diaphragm, ribs and of course lungs to have a good cry.
What’s even more shocking…is the reverse is also true – if you don’t express your feelings but suppress them, then those same body parts are obstructed. By stifling your emotions you unknowingly immobilize your respiratory system.
Psychology professor Dr. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University showed that the more unresolved emotions we suppress – the more inflammation occurs in our bodies. Think about that for a moment. Your mind and body are connected in delicate and complex ways.
If we suppress our emotions, we force bigger reactions from our immune system, hormonal system, and body tissues to fight the increased inflammatory responses that are created from feelings not dealt with.
Traditional Chinese Medicine holds that the lungs are a storage organ for grief. Modern medicine agrees… Dr. John Upledger and biophysicist Dr. Zvi Karni, pioneered the discovery 30 years ago that the body retains emotional energy, triggered by physiological, psychological, and emotional trauma.
SomatoEmotional Release (SER) is a therapy that helps remove the effects of past trauma from the mind and body.
As you heal from a past trauma your body still holds onto the overwhelming feelings of unresolved grief in the lungs. It can often be an underlying cause of asthma, chronic bronchitis, respiratory allergies, and shortness of breath for no apparent reason.
An SER session is an integrative therapy that combines a mind-body approach to gradually and comfortably rid the body of trauma and negative emotional experiences. To find an SER therapist visit the Upledger Institute International.
Your Body’s First Line of Defense Starts with the Lungs
Your lungs have innate immunity. Innate immunity is a basic system of antimicrobial defenses in the lungs. This includes lung leukocytes or white blood cells that fight disease, bacterial, viral, fungal infections, and foreign substances.
Finding out how to breathe better are extremely important as poor breathing can even contribute to some forms of cancer.
Dr. Otto Warburg in 1931, won a Nobel Prize for his work on how only oxygen starved cells will mutate and become cancerous. That makes me want to learn how to breathe better right now.
5 Ways to Easily Breathe Better
1. Breathe through your nose and not your mouth.
This may seem like a no brainer, but if you breathe through your nose rather than your mouth you ingest fewer toxins.
The Buteyko Breathing Method – named after a Russian physician who created the technique to correct mouth breathing and over breathing, has been noted for reducing anxiety, sleep apnea, reducing snoring, asthma, and hypertension.
Nearly 50% of all adults breathe through their mouth! Watch this video on the Buteyko Breathing Method by Patrick McKeown who was qualified by Dr. Buteykno.
2. Practice “Skull Shining Breath” or Kapalabhati
Begin with one long slow inhale, followed by a bursting quick exhale from your lower belly. Once you’ve got it, up the pace to one inhale-exhale every two seconds for a total of 10 breaths. This is a great exercise to practice when you first wake-up.
3. Try the 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
This one went viral and lots of people swear by it for falling asleep quickly. Find out how to perform this breathing exercise from Dr. Andrew Weil.
Here are the steps:
1. With your tongue resting right behind your front teeth (keep tongue there throughout the entire exercise), exhale completely.
2. Close your mouth and inhale quietly for a count of 4.
3. Next hold your breath for a count of 7 (this one was hard for me).
4. Finally exhale through your mouth for a count of 8, making a whooshing sound.
5. That’s one breath. Repeat up to 3 more times for a total of 4 breaths. Do not repeat after 4 breaths.
4. Use Lavender Essential Oil
A 2014 study from Okayama University Graduate School of Health Sciences in Okayama, Japan proved that inhalation of lavender essential oil can help you breathe easier. Animals that received lavender oil treatments showed less airway resistance and less stress on the immune systems after breathing in lavender for two weeks.
Lavender may also be a highly effective alternative medicine for bronchial asthma. It has anti-inflammatory effects, reduces allergic inflammation, and proves effective in treating bronchial asthma, bronchitis, sinus congestion, and even strengthens your immunity.
How to use Lavender essential oil to breathe easier:
Add 20 drops of lavender essential oil in a diffuser. I like BellaSentials (available from Amazon) essential oil diffuser. It’s easy to use, quiet, has a fun light changing color option, and the sleek design allows it to blend in anywhere. Just add water, your essential oils, turn on, and breathe in deeply.
Another easy way to use lavender essential oil is mix 30 drops into a carrier oil of your choice (sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil all work well). Then apply drops along your chest and neck, the bottoms of your feet, breathe in deeply and rub into your skin well.
Other excellent essential oils that can help you breathe better are: oregano, eucalyptus, peppermint, and thyme.
These oils contain compounds that are natural histamine reducers and decongestants. Add 3-6 drops of your selected oil in a glass of water and drink 2-3x daily. Or mix 3 drops with 1 teaspoon of a carrier and sniff the fumes of the oil.
5. Try Lobelia to Breathe Better
Lobelia is a lovely purple flowering herb, known as Indian tobacco, puke weed, or asthma weed – but don’t let the name make you shy away from this herbal remedy.
Native Americans have used it for centuries as a treatment for asthma. Throughout time it’s been used as an herbal detox, for craving control, and to relieve breathing problems.
Lobelia is even used as a natural way to “quit smoking,” since it acts as an expectorant and helps reduce cigarette cravings and clear the lungs of nicotine.
The active compound called lobeline helps break down mucus and congestion. It also encourages the airway to dilate and helps you to breathe better and more deeply. Oddly enough it’s found in some over-the-counter cold medicines. You can find it in tablets and as an extract. It’s most commonly made into a tincture.
If you suffer from asthma, COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, allergies, or chronic sinusitis work closely with your healthcare practitioner to make these effective natural breathing remedies work for you. Breathe better starting today.