If you could buy a pill that would detoxify your body, help you lose weight and help you reduce stress you would buy it. But what if I told you that these same benefits could be achieved with harnessing the power of the breath? Rebecca Dore from Lighten Up NQ tells us more.
“Breath is the fastest way to bring us back to a relaxed state. We can switch from strung out to blissed out in a matter of seconds!”
Breathing helps us drastically with detoxification — this is based on basic science, but we more readily believe that a pill or herb is going to help us: It’s not. You wont hear much about the benefits of the breath because breathing is free and you can’t sell it in a supplement store — we actually have to do it! Yogic breathing is one of the most underestimated elements of a yoga practice. It can assist your lymphatic system to remove toxins, improve cardiovascular fitness, help engage your relaxation response, reduce stress and also help to burn fat.
The benefits of yogic breathing include:
- Greater detoxification
- Improved nutrient absorption
- Reduced stress
- Increased happiness
- Emotional stability
- Better stamina
- Weight loss (through increase in leptin, AKA the ‘satiety hormone’)
- Longer life (due to reduced inflammation and improved immunity)
“Move, rest, breathe, repeat. Don’t end up like a rabbit on a treadmill! Let the life force of the breath reinvigorate you!”
The lymphatic system helps to take destructive toxins away from your cells to be eliminated by the body. Your breath is the pump for your lymphatic system (just like the heart pumps the blood). The consequence of a sluggish lymphatic system is that you just can’t detoxify properly. If you aren’t breathing deeply you aren’t eliminating toxins very well and they will build up in your tissues. As you would expect, this can lead to health concerns over time, including weight gain, muscle loss, high blood pressure, fatigue, and inflammation. You need the breath to pump the lymph and get the toxins out!
The good news is you can learn simple breathing techniques from yoga and breathing classes, which are founded on Yogic Pranayama — a Sanskrit term that means “extension of life force”. The expansion and contraction of the diaphragm actually stimulates your lymphatic system and massages your internal organs, helping the body rid itself of toxins, and leaving more room in the cells for an optimal exchange of oxygen.
Stress is a symptom of modern life, it seems that none of us can escape it. We also know that stress is a killer, literally! Stress depletes the body of vital nutrients and destabilises brain and endocrine chemistry. Depression, insulin sensitivity, heart disease, muscle tension and pain, insomnia, and adrenal fatigue are among long list of stress-related issues. Breath is the fastest way to bring us back to a relaxed state. We can switch from strung out to blissed out in a matter of seconds!
“It just takes a little patience and motivation. It also takes an acknowledgement that you are worth the time and energy it takes to invest in your heath”
When we are stressed, our body tends to burn glycogen instead of fat. Through triggering the relaxation response, deep breathing encourages your body to burn fat instead. Deep breathing during moderate or low demand exercise can also enhance the cardiovascular system in a similar way to high intensity exercise that ‘gets the heart rate up’. Therefore, if we breath deeply when doing moderate exercise, we can get best of both worlds — the cardiovascular improvements (normally only from high intensity exercise) and the fat burning (normally from lower intensity exercise).
Does deep breathing during moderate exercise sound familiar? Ladies and gentlemen this is yoga! Science can help to explain what Yogis have known for over 2000 years: That yoga is great for health and longevity. It’s an extremely beneficial low stress form of exercise that feels great for the body and doesn’t leave you feeling tired, injured, fatigued, tight or achy from lactic acid build up. Yoga challenges the ethic of ‘no pain no gain’ and instead encourages us to respect and nurture our body in a healthy way that will help it serve us well into the future. Move, rest, breathe, repeat. Don’t end up like a rabbit on a treadmill! Let the life force of the breath reinvigorate you!
Improved nutrient absorption
Have you heard the yogic version of the story of the tortoise and the hare (rabbit)? A tortoise lives for 200 years because his breathing is very slow and deep. A rabbit breathes rapidly and his lifespan is extremely short. The tortoise always wins even though he moves slower. Our cells count on the blood to carry ample nutrients and oxygen to them. When we breath more deeply we take in a greater amount of oxygen which vitamins and minerals to be more easily absorbed. This means we are getting better nutrition for our cells.
So rather than buying that magic pill that will detoxify your body, help you lose weight and help you reduce stress; it’s really all about just learning some simple techniques and then having the motivation to continue your practice at home or at a local yoga or Pranayama class. Keep your mind focused enough to just sit and breath for a short amount of time — it just takes a little patience and motivation. It also takes an acknowledgement that you are worth the time and energy it takes to invest in your heath.
You can find out more about detoxification, yoga and the breath during the Lighten Up 30-Day Detox Challenge. As well as offering a nourishing and sustainable way to cleanse and heal your body, the 30 Day Detox Challenge combines unlimited yoga and Pilates, a detox e-course and face-to-face workshop, a 30-day eating guide, a 60-minute massage and more to help you make this your healthiest month yet. Find out more here: www.lightenupnq.com.au/detox.