Breathe Every Day to Achieve Paleo Fitness - dummies

Breathe Every Day to Achieve Paleo Fitness

By Kellyann Petrucci, Patrick Flynn

Through simple deductive reasoning — that is, you’re alive, therefore, you’re breathing — you can deduce that you’ve met the simple act of breathing with a considerable amount of success. However, breathing is too complex and influential a task to be graded like finger painting or Lego blocks. And the type of breathing you need to focus on isn’t the involuntary act of breathing but the conscious type.

Breathing affects everything

Human respiration — the seemingly simple act of breathing — is perhaps the most powerful regulatory agency in the body. The rate and depth of your breath has the power to arouse and depress the senses, and it has long been known that you can affect your mood simply and rapidly by changing your breathing.

Breathing affects everything from your mood to the quality of your sleep. Don’t discount the benefits of taking a few minutes every day to practice deep, purposeful breathing.

Overbreathing — often referred to as hyperventilation is where your breath is laborious and excessive. If you’ve ever had a panic attack, you’ve experienced hyperventilation and know it’s frightening. Hyperventilating is paralyzing and sorely limits your ability to perform under stress.

Mostly, people just breathe too often. If you’re taking more than 12 breaths a minute, you’re overbreathing. Overbreathing, or hyperventilation, arouses anxiety (sometimes to the point of inducing panic), impairs cognition (sometimes to the point of memory loss), and promotes restlessness (sometimes to the point of insomnia).

Here are a few consequences of overbreathing:

  • Anxiety

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Headaches

  • Restlessness

  • Stress

Abnormal breathing patterns, such as overbreathing, have been linked to a plethora of illnesses, from the vexatious (gastritis) to the deadly (heart disease).

Breathe the way you were meant to breathe

You should breathe consciously every day — that is, you should practice slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Babies breathe this way, long and deep into the belly.

Conscious breathing is more about the exhalation than it is the inhalation. To practice conscious breathing, you breathe in for a count of four and breathe out for a count of eight. If you take the time to do this slow breathing every day, as often as possible, your efforts will be well rewarded. When you control your breath, you control your composure, your deliberation, and, to a certain degree, your aging.

Take five minutes now to try the following breathing exercise, known as crocodile breathing:

  1. Lie flat on your belly and rest your forehead on your hands.

  2. Slowly draw in a breath as deep into your belly as possible for four counts.

    Your belly should push out into the ground, and your sides should also have some outward visible movement. Your shoulders and chest, however, shouldn’t rise.

  3. Hold the breathe for a count of one, and then slowly exhale for a count of eight.