If you are reading this blog post, you are breathing. If you are breathing, you are fighting cancer. Whether you have already been diagnosed or not, your body is fighting. Our bodies produce cancer cells every single day and with a healthy immune system we can target those cells and get rid of them. But when we can't, that's when cancer becomes a problem.
Breathing actually supports our immune health. How? Let's break it down...
When we inhale, our lungs fill with fresh oxygen and the diaphragm contracts to move downward toward the belly. As this happens, the diaphragm actually puts pressure on the large lymphatic vessels in the abdomen and chest, stimulating the otherwise stagnant lymph fluid to circulate through the body.
Only breathing and body movement can move lymphatic fluid because it doesn't get pumped through our body like blood is pumped through the heart. So why is lymphatic movement so important?
The lymphatic system is part of our immune system. The lymphatic system is in charge of taking the waste products from our bodies' metabolism and moving it through the lymph nodes, where large white blood cells remove toxins. So lymph nodes act like little filters, which is why when we get a cold our throat can be sore and our bodies ache from fighting the flu. When the lymph is restricted, detoxification cannot happen efficiently.
Breathing is one of the best ways to move this fluid so it can get to the lymph node to be cleaned up and put back into circulation. Just like when we breathe in fresh oxygen, and exhale carbon dioxide our bodies are filtering out the bad and bringing in the good.
In fact, in meditation this is typically something we like to think about. We can relax knowing that by simply taking a deep breath we are doing our bodies good.
"Inhale deeply. Exhale completely. Inhale the good, fresh air. Exhale the negative, toxic breath."
As a Pilates instructor, I work on breathing quite a bit with my clients. While exercising, I recommend breathing in and out through the nose. This will generate more heat in the body and warm up your core. However, if you are stressed out and need to slow down and chill out, I would suggest inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
This has the opposite effect, cooling the body down and allowing you to drop into that relaxed, parasympathetic state. If you’ve been reading these blog posts from the beginning, you can tell stress has a lot to do with your health. You’re already doing some of these things. You just might need to do more of them, or in this case, take a deeper, more full breath.
We all get caught up in the hustle bustle of today’s world - social media, texting, doing everything and more. It’s easy to find yourself never really taking a deep breath. I found myself doing this and my naturopathic doctor told me the tightness in my neck and shoulders could be stemming from this ‘chest’ breathing. Even my diaphragm was tight, because I was never allowing it to drop, as in when you take a deep belly breath and the diaphragm drops in order to allow your lungs to expand. Crazy!
Now I regularly take deep breaths throughout the day, whenever I feel myself getting stressed. So go on, take a deep inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Inhale deeply. Exhale completely.