Maintaining our respiratory health is essential, as all of our other organs and bodily systems depend on oxygen to function correctly. Oxygen is the molecule of life; it’s one that we can’t live without, and the need for it goes far beyond our lungs.
The respiratory system takes in the air we breathe and filters out the carbon dioxide, leaving only the oxygen to be distributed to the rest of our body. We exhale the carbon dioxide, while our bloodstream picks up the oxygen to deliver it to other organs and body systems.
Here’s how just a few of our body systems work with the respiratory system to keep us going, and how breathwork techniques can improve how these systems function, leading to improved overall health.
The Muscular System
Muscles depend on the blood’s delivery of oxygen to repair and rebuild themselves. When muscles are being engaged beyond their typical use, say during a challenging workout, the circulatory system will bypass other systems to ensure that muscles get the amount of oxygen they need. When your muscles lack oxygen, they become stiff, leading to muscle cramps and weakness.
The Cardiac System
The cardiac system, which is made up of the heart, and it’s many parts, cannot pump blood to the rest of your body without oxygen. You’ve heard that the heart is a muscle, and it’s the most crucial in supporting life. Every other organ depends on the heart to continue pumping blood filled with oxygen to the places where it’s needed the most.
The Digestive System
Even the digestive system depends on the proper delivery of oxygen to do its job. Your digestive system is made up of the stomach, small and large intestines, liver, pancreas, and gall bladder. It converts food into energy for the body.
The digestive system and the respiratory system work hand in hand together. The respiratory system needs the energy created by the digestive system to continue pumping oxygen to the blood, and the digestive system relies on the oxygen provided to the muscles to do its job. The two are so interconnected that individuals with chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) often develop digestive issues.
The brain depends on the respiratory system just as much as any other part of the body, and without the proper amount of oxygen, brain function will cease within only a few minutes. This is why when a person has stopped breathing, CPR is performed to continue providing oxygen until emergency medical care arrives.
While there are many more elements in the body that depend on correct oxygen levels, one thing is clear. Our respiratory health is essential. If you’re wondering how to use simple breathwork to improve your respiratory health, keep reading.
Breathwork to Transform Your Health
There are several breathwork techniques that you can practice to improve your oxygen flow and help transform your health. They include:
- Deep Breathing. Sit straight up and inhale deeply for five to six seconds. Exhale through the mouth for seven seconds, and repeat for 10-20 minutes.
- Belly Breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, has been shown to help people who struggle with conditions such as COPD. Place one hand on your chest and another on your belly. Breathe deeply through your nose, let your belly relax, and feel your stomach rise with your hand. Exhale slowly through pursed lips. You’ll know if you’re doing this correctly if the hand resting on your chest doesn’t move throughout the process.
- The Bellows Breath is a yogic form of breathing that is known to increase oxygen and blood flow, leading to increased energy. The premise is simple: breathe in and out as quickly as possible through your nose for 15 seconds.
Many different forms of breathwork can be used to transform your health and strengthen your respiratory system. Some techniques are more advanced than others, so go at your own pace when trying a new method.