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Breath therapy is a healing and stress management exercise. It consists of a variety of breathing techniques to relieve stress and anxiety and improve physical, emotional, and mental health. It combines ancient Eastern disciplines, with newer Western methods. Developed in the last 20 years, it is a useful tool against many psychosomatic illnesses and ailments. Breath therapy employs a series of inhaling and exhaling patterns and techniques to heal the body.
Advocates of breath therapy are proponents of two central ideas. The first idea is that the average breathing mechanism operates at only a fraction of its capacity. The natural human breathing state is altered throughout life by many events from birth, like sports, cultural norms, oxygen levels, and physical health. Breath therapy helps to restore the normal and natural state of breathing that the healthy human should be experiencing.
The second central idea of breath therapy stresses the importance of the circulation of the oxygen that is so important to human life. The circulation of the proper and full amounts of oxygen through the system in breath therapy helps all parts of the body to work in a more productive way. With the lungs pumping more air, the muscles are able to work more efficiently, the blood, which contains oxygen, flows more easily, and the passages of the face and brain are free to operate at their unrestricted potential.
Breath therapy is popular as a natural healing method and a therapeutic tool for the body and mind. It is used by athletes to achieve high levels of performance; artists to achieve unrestricted levels of creativity, and by the spiritual to put themselves in touch with nature and God. Breath therapy is used to control anxiety, grief and loss, respiratory issues, birth issues, chronic pain, and emotional release.
A common environment for breath therapy is an open environment with a comfortable setting and familiar people. The actual therapy consists of different techniques with different effects. They are used to correct breathing flaws, to control energy, to expand the lungs, and to induce relaxation. Many people prefer to learn breath therapy from a teacher or instructor, but it can be picked up or developed by someone on their own. Breath therapy is best approached with a positive attitude toward its healing capabilities, and best exercised in as relaxed of a mood as possible.
Breath therapy exercises include forms of meditation, relaxation response, energy breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, rhythmic breathing, holding exercises, Eastern spiritual techniques, and yoga.
In my opinion, breathing techniques and yoga exercises are the two contributions of Eastern therapy and "medicine" that have been most useful to us Westerners.
It is easy to observe the benefits of both yoga and breathing exercises. It just makes sense that getting more oxygen circulating throughout our bodies is a healthy thing. The Eastern culture has taught us a lot about techniques to breathe in a way that will allow more air to enter our body.
I think it's better to learn breathing exercises at a class because you really need someone to guide you, at least at the beginning, because most of us aren't very self-disciplined and tend to get distracted. After it has become second nature, you can do it on your own. A refresher course might be a good idea, now and then.
I attended a class in yoga and mindful thinking. Breathing therapy was also included in the class sessions. The idea was getting the mind and body to the point where you were in the present moment. We used yoga and breathing therapy to teach our minds and bodies to relax and "be in the moment."
I had a difficult time learning the breathing techniques. It takes a great deal of concentration. I think the key is to just make yourself practice it consistently every single day. When you get it down, you do feel more relaxed and your whole body feels like it's functioning better.
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