Breathe Deep

Throughout the process of WAITING…waiting to get into the doctor, waiting for test results, waiting to feel better, and waiting to learn about and sift through the massive industry of vitamin supplementation, there are a few basic ways to start feeling better right away.

Let’s say you’re nearly bed-ridden with fatigue (or you actually are) and don’t have a shred of energy to get on an exercise bike or take a walk (been there), the simplest way to boost your energy and mood is through breathing. Yep. Breathing. Something we do involuntarily and couldn’t survive without, yet most of us go through our entire day holding our breath and taking in short snippets of air. You just took a deep breath, didn’t you? But — was it an OPTIMAL deep breath?

Did your belly region expand from your pelvis to your neck and did you blow it out just as slowly? Probably not. Try it. Count to five while you breathe in through your nose (“Nasal breathing, as opposed to mouth breathing,  increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes ” Swift, Campbell, McKown  1988 Oronasal obstruction, lung volumes, and arterial oxygenation. Lancet 1, 73-75)  and five to breathe out. Feel a bit light headed? That means you need to do this a few times. 

If you’re in your car, in your kitchen, in the shower or if you can just sit still for a couple of minutes, do this exercise. You might find you have a clenched hand that opens or your shoulders that are always up by your ears lower.

When I was bed ridden with back spasms and nerve pain a few years ago, I couldn’t walk, let alone exercise. I had many years of yoga under my belt so I knew the power of breath. At times it would release the spasms and warm or cool my tense, pain-filled body. If you breathe out through your nose like you’re fogging a mirror, that will keep the warmth in your body. If you exhale through your mouth it may cool you and release extra CO2, but there’s little evidence to determine whether exhaling is better through the nose or mouth. 

Try to do this a few times a day, and if you do it at bedtime, you might find you doze off before you’re done with a few. As you become more in-tune with your breathing, you can up the count and you may feel it in your extremities as serenity spreads throughout your body. 

Once you’re comfortable with breathing, and if you’re able, hang your head upside down to get a fresh supply of blood to your brain, face, sinuses, and of course, breathe. Yes, blood courses through your head no matter what, but it’s quite a feeling when a rush of it enters your cranium. Again, you’ll probably feel dizzy, so best to start by doing it laying on a bed or sofa with your head hanging off. Come up slowly and be still for a moment. If you can do it a few times in a row, you’ll start to feel less dizzy and truly refreshed. If you’re nose is stuffy or your ears are congested usually they’ll open up, even if it’s just for a few hours. Think of it as a power-wash for your head. As fresh blood rushes to the area, old blood is pushed out by fresh cells and oxygen.  

Once you’ve gotten used to this, again, if you’re able, try bending over at the waist and just stay there for a count of 20-30, breathe and come up very slowly, head coming up last. Repeat two more times. It’s okay to rest your hands on your thighs or shins or use the edge of a table for support. We all have pretty tight hamstrings so the added bonus to this move is that they may stretch out a little. If you’re able, let your arms hang loose and shake them out or cross them and let them hang. The main goal is to get the blood moving, refresh your mind and get your  “glow” on. And remember — keep breathing deeply in the process. 

This all seems simplistic but I promise you, it works to beef up your long-lost friend ENERGY and find your missing cousin CIRCULATION.  


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