Breathe Like a Ba – It’s Good for the Brain
Article by J. J. Jackson
Zen meditation and other related meditative practices are equally well known for teaching a deep breathing method that can relieve stress, drive away fatigue and increase concentration – all important to increasing brain power over a lifetime.
Except for the few who have incorporated meditation into their life style, the general population in the U.S. does not know how to breathe correctly.
In order to ensure healthy brain function throughout your life, learning to breathe correctly is a must. The brain needs a constant, adequate supply of oxygen to work efficiently and to stay healthy. Breathing correctly will provide the oxygen and effectively expel carbon dioxide at the same time. It keeps blood gases at normal levels.
You probably heard when you were growing up: stand up straight, pull your shoulders back, and hold in your stomach. Unfortunately, although the admonition can help develop good posture, it can also lead to shallow breathing from the middle and upper portions of the lungs. As you force air in and out of the lungs by expanding the chest, the muscles tense, the breath rate increases and oxygen intake decreases. This “shallow breathing” or “chest breathing” is essentially the norm in Western cultures.If you want to see how the body should look when breathing is done correctly, watch how a baby’s chest and tummy move when sleeping. Babies naturally breathe from the belly. But, as people age, the majority of people move away from the natural, healthy belly breathing and begin to breathe shallowly from the chest.Chest breathing is particularly common in office workers who are forced to sit for long periods of time. The diaphragm and abdominal area become compressed because of poor sitting postures. This forces them to breathe from the chest, resulting in tense muscles and fatigue that comes from lack of oxygen.
Carol Krucoff stated in an article, “Better living through belly breathing” which ran in The Seattle Times, May 10, 2000, section C3:Slow, deep breathing is a powerful anti-stress technique. When you bring air down into the lower portion of the lungs, where the oxygen exchange is most efficient, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, muscles relax, anxiety eases and the mind calms.
These are all powerful pluses for the brain – and general well-being. The bottom line is that the best oxygen supply comes from belly breathing. The belly expands because you are pushing air deep into the lungs, which is where the best oxygen exchange takes place, and provides the life-giving oxygen supply to the entire body and especially the brain.We all breathe correctly from time to time . . . think about how good it feels to take that nice deep breath and let it out slowly. There is a momentary feeling of relief that follows. Why not make correct breathing the norm rather than the exception.
The basic techniques that are common in all the experts’ descriptions of correct breathing are: 1. Breathe into your diaphragm, avoid shallow “chest” breathing 2. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth 3. Take longer to exhale than to inhale 4. Slow down your breathing! 5. Consciously Practice until it becomes automatic
Learning how to breathe correctly is an important step to increase your brain power. Breathing deeply and regularly increases the oxygen supply to the brain. The result: the brain works more efficiently.
Dr. Andrew Weil received his MD from Harvard Medical School and has become an internationally recognized expert on mind-body interactions and is the author of nine books. He states, “If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.”
About the Author
J. J. Jackson is a writer whose expertise in increasing brain power is based on extensive research. You can check out his latest website at How to Improve Brain Power where he provides many strategies to improve brain function and long-lasting mental acuity, including The Basics for Increasing Mind Power, Power Up Your Brain, and much more.