Now that we’ve moved to beautiful and mile-high Colorado, it’s taking a few months to acclimate to the elevation, and the best way we have found to do this is by swimming: rhythmical, evenly-paced lap swimming. My (Carol) theory why this works to calm the nervous system and enhance deeper breathing is that for every inhale, a lap swimmer is exhaling for at least two counts, thereby knocking more carbon dioxide (CO2), and thus waste-product, off. Less toxins in the body can only be a good thing!
Air is a form of nutrient in both biomedicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The exchange of gases occurs in the lungs, where oxygen (O2) is inhaled and carbon dioxide (CO2) is exhaled. O2 binds to hemoglobin, travels in the blood to each cell, where the mitochondria use it to create ATP, THE energy molecule, via the Krebs cycle.
When you take deeper breaths, you increase the amount of O2 in your body, and the potential for more reserves of energy both immediately and in times of stress or depletion/illness.
Here’s a simple Taoist breathing method:
1) Inhale through your nose, and follow the breath down your esophagus, into your chest, and down to your lower abdomen, allowing the muscles to relax and expand.
2) Exhale from the lower abdomen by contracting the muscles of the lower abs and core towards your spine.
Breathing this way is very grounding, and with practice, will become second nature — it’s the way we breathed as babies, so that kinesthetic memory is stored in our nervous systems.
No need to rush the process: you can do it any time or place when you remember to do it. For example, when you’re waiting for the light to change, or feel your emotions or thoughts start to run away from you.
Guideline: never strain — follow the 70% rule — taking breaths only as deeply as they come naturally to you.
Benefits: increased energy, clearer thinking, calmer nervous system, improved metabolic and organ function, and less toxic waste in the form of CO2 floating in the blood.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, National Institute of Health website. Retrieved 10.18.10: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/hlw/hlw_respsys.html
If you have questions and concerns about acupuncture treatment, we offer a free 20-minute phone session: click here for contact information to call or e-mail us. We practice at The Highlands Ranch Medical Pavilion in Littleton, Colorado.
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