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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Mindful Breathing Adds Years to Lifespan: Mindful breathing can reduce many symptoms and is powered by inspiration, says Dominika Gaines

Jun 27, 2015 03:03PM ● By By Dominika Gaines

Mindful breathing can reduce symptoms such as fatigue, asthma, digestive issues and chronic pain in the low back, neck and shoulders.

Mindful breathing is empowered by inspiration, which has two definitions: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative; and the drawing in of breath; inhalation. We are likely all familiar with the frightening, panicked sensation of having to hold our breath for too long. The body depends on oxygen to survive; without oxygen, the brain will stop functioning.

Given the importance of oxygen, the body has several strategies for breathing and taking in oxygen, some of which are more efficient and healthful than others. Unfortunately, chronic stressors of any sort (being hurried, too many obligations, muscle and joint or nerve pain) can lead the body to live in a panicked state, resulting in shallow breathing. Constant shallow breathing means that the diaphragm, which expands the ribs on inhalation and then presses the air out of the lungs on exhalation, is not working to its full capacity.

Likewise, the intercostal muscles that lay like little fingers between each pair of ribs are also not working as effectively. Because the diaphragm and intercostals are not making room for the lungs to expand, the entire rib cage needs to lift, which means that the muscles around the shoulders and neck are likely being held in a constant state of contraction.

All that tension, if never fully released, sends a panic signal to the central nervous system. Because the brain's primary job is to stay alive, it will send pain signals to alert us that something is wrong. To reduce that pain without medication and increase the body's health, become inspired and pay more attention to the quality and depth of the breath.

At Kinesphere for example, the mindful breathing classes are called Breath of Rejuvenation. They are conducted in a safe, nurturing environment guided by movement educators, where clients learn to breathe more deeply and fully, helping to return their body to a state of health and happiness. Classes meet at 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. Saturdays.

Dominika Gaines is the owner and director of Kinesphere Center for Movement Education, in Phoenix. For more information, phone 602-532-3111 or visit kcme-az.com.

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