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Your Health
by Pati Kearns
Yoga Spirit at Dance, Etc.

Breathing Mechanics
Breathe. It seems obvious enough, because we all do it without thinking about it very much (unless we can't breathe!). Most people in our stressed out society take short, shallow breaths. While this might get you by for a while, it is not setting the stage for optimal health.

Practicing good breathing mechanics is one of the most important things we can do to take care of our health. Healthy breathing increases the efficiency of the respiratory, circulatory and lymphatic systems. It helps us to oxygenate and energize the body and help rid it of toxins. One of the most wonderful benefits of healthy breathing is that it helps to balance the nervous system, enabling us to feel calm and at ease.

To breathe well, the abdomen should be somewhat relaxed. When air enters the lungs with the inhalation, the lungs press down on the diaphragm, and the abdomen will gently expand as the body receives breath and energy. On the exhalation, the belly is drawn back toward the spine to completely release the breath. Your abdomen should move with each breath.

Try this: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Rest your hands on your belly. As you exhale, draw your belly back toward your spine. As you inhale, just relax, and you will feel your abdomen rise. (Do not force or distend the abdomen, do not hold your breath.) Practice while lying down until it becomes familiar, then try while sitting upright. You may find that you have been "breathing backward", with the abdomen being sucked in on the inhalation, and being released on the exhalation. This is actually a pattern of stressful breathing. Once again, as you breathe out, draw the abdomen back toward the spine. As you breathe in, the abdomen and chest will naturally expand.

Take it easy and be well.

Pati Kearns teaches Yoga at Dance Etc. Call Pati at 279-9523 for more information.

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