Friday, December 10, 2010

Breathing for Brain Restoration

The Breath of Fire increases mental and physical energy – try doing it for two or three minutes.

From a Western perspective, the Breath of Fire – using quick abdominally-focused breaths – is believed to be effective because it stimulates the splanchnic nerves in the abdominal cavity. Stimulation of these nerves causes the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine.

To do this exercise, breathe through your nostrils rapidly – more than one inhalation per second. Do not pause between inhaling and exhaling.

You should inhale by bringing your diaphragm down rather than up. Breathe from your diaphragm, with your chest relaxed. Focus on your navel area.

You might experience a mild feeling of light-headedness. However, this is likely due to increased alertness. Clinical studies have indicated that while the carbon dioxide level in the blood remains normal, the oxygen level actually increases during the Breath of Fire. Other studies indicate that the Breath of Fire produces alpha rhythms in the brain. This is probably why the exercise is able to simultaneously create increased calmness and increased alertness.

This breathing exercise may work by increasing oxygen delivery to the brain, improving neuronal metabolism. The neurons are thereby rejuvenated.

Some people use the Breath of Fire for quick energy in the afternoon—instead of a candy bar or cup of coffee. I’m using it today to relieve my brain fog. It’s the first rainy weekend of the winter, and my body is responding with a serious case of the “sleepies.”

If this breathing exercise does not give me the wakefulness I am looking for, I’ll turn to another tried-and-true brain refresher (and tomorrow’s topic): an afternoon nap.

Best wishes,
Suzanna Stinnett

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