Friday, May 20, 2011

Gratifying Benefits of Breathing Deep

The Labyrinth is one of the many places to catch a breath
at Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA
One of the things that was constantly reinforced during my stay at the fabulous Canyon Ranch was the importance of deep breathing. Not just in meditation sessions, but in lecture after lecture and in every exercise class, we were asked to focus on our breath. I even took a breathing lesson, which sounds kind of ridiculous, but actually isn't. Apparently very few of us know how to breathe properly. We run around panting like little hamsters, feeling all frantic and worked up, instead of taking the deep belly breaths we need to maintain our health, vitality and peace of mind.

It's not difficult to breathe deeply but you do have to pay attention to achieve it. Here's the basic technique I learned at Canyon Ranch.
"Assume a comfortable position. Mindfully relax your body, releasing any areas of tension or constriction. Observe your breath. As you inhale (through nose), the lower edge of the rib cage and the abdomen should expand. As you exhale, the opposite should occur. Do not force the movement of the abdomen. Allow the breath to naturally move through the body."
Breathing deeply from the diaphragm has many benefits. Not only does it lower stress and blood pressure, it balances our immune system, reduces cravings, improves circulation, and even lessens hot flashes!

But there's more. Different breathing techniques can be used to relax, to energize, to fall back asleep, and even  to achieve orgasm. Yep, that's right. Just check out the video below to see how easily it can be done, as sex educator Sheri Winston demonstrates. (Don't worry, it's not pornographic, just a bit noisy.)

Now, this particular technique was not taught at Canyon Ranch and I myself have not mastered it. But as for the benefits of deep breathing, I'm sold.


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