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Breathing for Beauty and Brains
Breathe slower, live longer
In one of my favourite books by the wacky writer Tom Robbins – ‘Jitterbug Perfume’, there’s a couple that goes around holding their breath to prolong life. Robbins had obviously done his research into the practices of yoga and ‘pranayama’. Fact is that creatures that breathe slower like the elephant and the tortoise, live longer.
You will notice that if your emotional state is agitated, you breathing will be shallow and irregular. Remember to breathe through your nose and check during the day whether you’re breathing through your mouth or your nose. The nose is the right path for the breath and also filters out much of the smoke and pollution you encounter.
Breathe deeper for happiness
Of course, few of us really think of how we breathe, since it is an involuntary process. But once you master the simple technique of deep breathing, it will become automatic. Deep breathing does much more than prolong life. It calms and soothes, by reducing the build up of toxins in you're in the brain and stimulates the production of the happy hormones – endomorphins, that alleviate depression. You’ll also find that you can sing better because of better breath control.
Breathe deeper for brains
Correct breathing makes you more alert intellectually and clarifies thinking by increasing circulation to the brain. According to research, every about two-and-a-half hours one nostril is more open than the other and the brain hemisphere predominance is activated by these cycles. When the right nostril is more open, it’s the time for energetic activity or anything that requires common sense and organisation. When the left one is open, follow your creative impulses. To find out which nostril is more open, hold a mirror under your nose and watch which side clouds over.
Breathe deeper for beauty
Deep breathing helps you sing better and oh yes, makes you more beautiful. Your eyes will be bright, your skin will glow because the increased oxygen supply improves the regeneration of cells and thus helps preserve skin tone. How does this happen exactly? Here’s a peep within: You draw air in through the nostrils into a series of progressively smaller windways.
First the air flows into the trachea or windpipe, then the bronchi which branch off to the lungs. Microscopic air sacs called alveoli at the bottom of the lungs pass the air on to the bloodstream. The blood carries oxygen to the cells and collects the wastes (the cells produce carbon dioxide which is expelled when you exhale) for disposal. Finally, the blood is pumped back to the heart and on to the lungs.
Technique 1 – Twist and Breathe
This exercise increases lung capacity and improves complexion.
- Sit with your legs crossed.
- Raise hands above head so upper arms are almost touching your ears.
- Keep the elbows straight, palms together.
- Inhale through your nose as you turn head, torso and arms to the left; exhale as
- you turn right.
Technique 2 –The Beauty Breath
Repeat this exercise three to five times, always on an empty stomach. If you find it too strenuous, you may begin by sitting cross-legged and bending forwards from the waist, while holding the breath and exhaling.
- Stand erect with arms raised, inhaling deeply.
- Bend forwards from the waist, retaining the breath, and hold from five to fifteen seconds or until your face feels flushed and a feeling of warmth suffuses your whole body. (It is all right to bend your knees a little so that your head comes way down.)
- Exhale, return to the standing position with arms down, and relax.
Here’s to a more beautiful, relaxed and alert you.