Lauren Carlstrom, O+ Team Member |
Yoga – a very fluid experience in and of itself – has evolved as a concept and practice over time and geography. Today, yoga is many things to many people, and is practiced in various shapes and forms – ranging from yoga for athletes, to a more disciplined mind/body-centric variety. But what’s one undeniable similarity espoused in all forms of yoga – from the East to the West? You guessed it: the breath.
Perhaps the oldest, most fundamental element in yoga, and for aspiring yogis to grasp, is the importance of breathing. Sadly, the strains of modern life (e.g., stress) that are so common in the Western world seem to have robbed people of the innate ability to breathe as intended. Many ancient texts, including the story of creation that is embraced by the three largest faiths of the world, chose the image of breath as the fulfillment or embodiment of being alive. In Genesis, the first book of Scriptures, the creator of the universe is described as giving the first man (Adam) ruach – the Hebrew word for "breath" or "spirit” – bringing Adam’s body (made from clay) to life.
Why human beings have forgotten how to properly breathe is a topic for a future article. The focus of this article, and of yoga, is on why breathing – and moreover breathing enriched oxygen – can help enhance an individual’s well-being and elevate the yoga experience.
Oxygen is absorbed from the air we breathe (unpolluted, ambient air contains approximately 21% oxygen) into the alveoli (or air sacs) of our lungs via diffusion (Seaman). The oxygen, wanting to catch a ride on the body’s red blood cells, is then transferred to the blood stream. The oxygen molecules are carried to the areas of the body that require oxygen for normal daily functions, including converting nutrients into usable energy.
It’s worth mentioning that other athletic disciplines that are breath-centric, such as pilates and the GYROTONIC® exercise method, share in the appreciation of benefits of breathing ambient, every day air. “Learning to breathe efficiently is an integral aspect of conditioning the body, which is especially important for mind/body practices like pilates and the GYROTONIC® EXPANSIONSYSTEM®. By ensuring that the diaphragm is completely engaged in the breathing process, you will not only deepen your physical experience of the practices, you will also be optimizing your energy levels, as well as your clarity and focus of mind.” (Inspiral Motion)
Oxygen is the only component of the normal ambient air we breathe that has a positive impact on the body’s functions. It is necessary for optimum bodily functioning, and, in particular, all voluntary muscle actions. Anything to do with any exercise or physical exertion requires oxygen to replenish – or even continue – the action (Chin). Oxygen converts nutrients into usable energy. An increased percentage of oxygen in your air intake – such as pure, portable Oxygen Plus (O+) – will make all functions more efficient and subject to quicker recovery from energy deficits.
Oxygen Plus contains pure recreational oxygen, or about 4.5 times more than the percentage of oxygen that is the air you regularly breathe. That’s why, for the serious yogi, supplementing with pure recreational oxygen will provide your body with the cellular power it needs to return, like new, to the mat – day after day. Without the life-giving energy and recovery inherent in Oxygen Plus, muscles soreness – caused by excessive muscle use and fatigue – could kick in. The absence of ample oxygen when you need it, in more technical terms, is called an “oxygen debt,” which is the overall debt accumulated during exercise that has to be replenished after the physical activity. It is during these physically demanding yoga experiences that pure, portable handheld oxygen, such as Oxygen Plus, comes to the rescue.
In a final nod to re-teaching our minds and bodies how to properly breathe, here’s a shout out to the suggestion of becoming a nose breather. Recent research has found that breathing through the nose affords a person’s mind and body vital health benefits that are not as evident in those who breathe through the mouth. Leading medical experts and institutions, including the Mayo Clinic, as well as life-altering, science-based breathing methods (e.g., the Bukato method) advocate habitual nose breathing. In an article on diaphragmatic breathing, the Mayo Clinic wrote that “many studies have found that deep, yogic breathing helps balance the autonomic nervous system, which regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as temperature control and bladder function,” and “help ease symptoms of stress-related disorders and mental health conditions such as anxiety, general stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
Not surprisingly, yoga is also infused with an emphasis on nasal breathing. The Ujjayi breath, which is a diaphragmatic breathing technique, is typically done in association with asana practice – and both inhalation and exhalation are both done through the nose.
Myriad health benefits, including optimized oxygenation, maximum oxygen/carbon dioxide transportation, and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, are associated with breathing through the nose (Elephant Journal). “Inhaling through the nose, as opposed to inhaling through the mouth, is more efficient at pulling the oxygen all the way down into the lower lobes of the lungs because it effectively engages the diaphragm.”
The refillable O-Stick shell from Oxygen Plus comes with two O+ Refill oxygen canisters in the O+ Elevate Pack
Oxygen Plus, which provides an increased amount of oxygen intake, can help energize your mind and speed up your recovery process – giving you the power and prana you desire. Pick up an O-Stick, available with two starter refill canisters in the O+ Elevate Pack, next time you hit the mat. Portable and lightweight, and a perfect pair for your water bottle, Oxygen Plus handheld recreational oxygen canisters can help enhance your yoga practice — taking your diaphragmatic, nasal Ujjayi breathing to new heights.
Prof. Seaman, Physical Education Department, York University, Downsview Ontario. Anatomy, 1972, article revised 2009.
Inspiral Motion. Breathing and the Body. January 26, 2016. https://www.inspiralmotion.com/journal/2016/1/18/breathing-and-the-body. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
Prof. Chin, Physical Education Department, York University, Downsview Ontario. Physiology, 1975, article revised 2002.
Wikipedia. Ujiayi breath. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ujjayi_breath. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
Elephant Journal. 15 Benefits of Nose Breathing. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/02/15-benefits-of-nosebreathing-exercise/. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
Mayo Clinic. Diaphragmatic breathing. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/indepth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-20267197?pg=2. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
GYROTONIC® and GYROTONIC® EXPANSION SYSTEM® are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with their permission.