Considering the Health Benefits of Yoga Breathing

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Besides benefiting your mental outlook (a topic we explore in the previous pages of this chapter), employing yoga breathing techniques offers many benefits to your health. Here are a handful of them:

1 Metabolism. Breathing well, as nature intended, is supportive to the function of the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, and hormonal systems. Yoga breathing may be helpful in promoting your metabolic balance in everyday living. It may keep your body weight in check.

1 Detoxification. Your lungs are a critical aspect of your daily detoxification. When you exhale, you release carbon dioxide that has been passed from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a waste product of your body's natural metabolism. By expelling air from the deepest recesses of your lungs, you expel more carbon dioxide and you enable your lungs to take in more oxygen.

1 Oxygenation. One of the greatest benefits of yoga breathing is the oxygenation of all the cells in your body. The supply of oxygen to your brain and the muscles of your body increases. Oxygen travels the bloodstream by attaching to the hemoglobin in red blood cells. This oxygen enables your body to metabolize vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. You get a lot of the same benefits from yoga breathing that you can get from visiting an oxygen bar, but you get them for free.

1 Organ massage. Each time you inhale, your diaphragm descends and your abdomen expands (your diaphragm is a muscle located a few inches above your belly button; your abdomen is located over your belly). This action massages your intestines, heart, and other organs near your diaphragm. Proper breathing helps to promote improved circulation in these organs. What's more, it helps to strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles.

1 Posture. The breathing techniques encourage good posture. Poor posture can be a cause of incorrect breathing.

According to the yoga tradition, each person is allotted a certain number of breaths, and after you exceed this number, your time on earth is finished. People who breathe hurriedly and shallowly use up their allotment of breaths quickly, but if you breathe slowly and consciously, your breath allotment lasts for many years. Let this thoughtful idea remind you how valuable and life-expanding each breath may be. Developing a breath that's balanced, steady, and rhythmic — one that's never forced but deep and full — helps you live a long and healthy life.

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