Breathing for Life
Life is but a series of breaths. Breath is life. We can live a long time without food, a couple of days without drinking, but life without breath is measured in minutes. Something so essential deserves our attention. Breath is the most important of all the bodily functions. Proper breathing is one of the most important things you can do for maintaining your health. There is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. Children breathe deeply, from their diaphragm. As we age, however, our breathing shifts to the chest and becomes more shallow and more rapid. Deep breathing is best. I recommend taking a few minutes each day to practice breathing deeply. You’ll find a breathing exercise at the end of this page to help you learn to breathe more deeply throughout the day. Deep breathing and the lymph system Deep breathing is important because it makes your lymphatic system work better. What is the lymph system? Some people think of it as the body’s sewage system. Every cell in your body is surrounded by lymph. Here’s how the lymph system works: Blood is pumped from your heart through your arteries to the thin, porous capillaries. The blood carries nutrients and oxygen to the capillaries, where they are diffused into this fluid around the cells called lymph.
The cells, having an intelligence or affinity for what they need, take nutrients and oxygen for their health and then excrete toxins, some of which go back into the capillaries. But dead cells, blood proteins, and other toxic material must be removed by the lymphatic system. And the lymphatic system is activated by deep breathing. The body’s cells depend on the lymphatic system as the only way to drain off the large toxic materials and excess fluid, which restrict the amount of oxygen that the cells are able to absorb. The fluid passes through the lymph nodes, where dead cells and all other poisons except blood proteins are destroyed and neutralized. How important is the lymphatic system? If it were totally shut down for 24 hours, you would die as the result of trapped blood proteins and excess fluid around the cells. In addition to deep breathing, rebounding on a mini-trampoline is another great way to stimulate your lymph system.
The lymph collected throughout the body drains into the blood through 2 ducts located at the base of the neck, ultimately ending up in the ‘thoracic duct’. Breathing drives this action. If you take a deep breath and exhale deeply, you’re massaging the thoracic duct upward into the neck so that the fluid flows abundantly. This duct empties the lymph into the veins, where it becomes part of the blood plasma. From there, the lymph returns to the liver for metabolization, and finally to the kidneys for filtering. Did you know that the lymphatic system is twice the size of our other circulatory system? It’s true. Twice as much lymph as blood is present in our bodies, and we have twice as many lymph vessels as blood vessels. One of the keys to health is to keep your lymphatic system open and flowing freely. As most readers probably know, most of the body is made up of water. Part of the water resides in the bloodstream, but far more is in the lymphatic system.
Our cells are located in a sea of lymph, a pale fluid. Like the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system is made up of channels, valves and filters, or nodes. Unlike the cardiovascular system, however, the lymphatic system lacks any central “heart-like” organ to pump lymph throughout the lymph vessels. Instead, the lymphatic system depends on muscular movement, simple gravity and BREATHING to move lymph fluid throughout the body. When the lymphatic system is flowing freely everything is well. When the lymphatic system backs up, however, there’s trouble. The consequences can be serious, even life-threatening. Not only are the repair, building and waste disposal systems affected by a disruption, the body’s defenses against foreign substances are also impaired. In addition to filtering out toxic materials, the lymph nodes also produce substances which fight off invading bacteria and viruses and destroy abnormal cells which developed within the body, such as cancer cells. In addition to being part of the body’s plumbing and repair system, the lymphatic system is an essential part of our immune system. The lymphatic system is as essential to bodily function as the bloodstream it complements. “To keep it clear, you need to increase its drainage capacity or reduce its intake of toxins. I suggest doing both – through diet, stress reduction, exercise and deep breathing.
Pranamaya: A simple breathing exercise you can use in your daily routine Are you willing to invest just 5 minutes a day in a breathing exercise which will produce immediate and significant benefits? The ayurvedic breathing technique known as “Pranayama” is a tremendously beneficial practice for your health and it’s free. Ayurveda and Transcendental Meditation have helped me make marked improvements in not only my health and behavior but all aspects of my life. I highly recommend you look into it . The neti pot is another practice which may help you improve your breathing for better health.