Did you know that our lungs are enormous? If you laid them out flat they would cover an entire tennis court.
The significance of this vital organ may suggest the importance of mastering the technique of breathing, if we are to ensure optimal health.
Breathing is one of the few bodily functions that we can do both unconsciously and consciously, and for thousands of years, ancient cultures have understood the control of the breath - to increase focus, awareness of self and slow the mind.
Modern western science has also woken up to investigating the benefits of breathing consciously as a way to manage stress, boost mood and energy levels and even manage weight.
Our breath is an indicator of our mood and our mood is an indicator of our breath. This means that if we change how we breathe we can change our mood.
It also means that when our mood changes so does our breath.
There are several ways to consciously breathe, such as the Kapalabhati (breath of fire) and pranayama
yogic breathing. They all share one thing in common, they induce rest in the body, by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
The Alpha State
When we ground ourselves through the breath, we move into a lower vibrational state, close to the alpha state. In this highly focused but calm state, we turn on our creative brain, become more aware of our surroundings and can observe
life from a different perspective.
Doctors Brown and Gerbarg’s Sudarshan Kriya Yogic Breathing Study
in the Treatment of Stress, Anxiety, and Depression found that yogic breathing balances the autonomic nervous system, which influences stress-related disorders.
Breathe to Release Stress and Anxiety
Becoming more aware helps us to differentiate between experiences that induce fear or stress and the physiological changes that arise from them. By noticing our perception and physical reaction to them, we are able to enhance and safeguard our health in a more conscious and responsible manner.
Better Mind, Body and Spirit.
We are each born with billions of brain cells, and when we deprive them of oxygen, our performance will suffer.
For example when we hyperventilate, we expel too much CO2, meaning less oxygen can be absorbed by the body, which leads us into a cycle of breathing even faster.
By practicing balanced breathing we allow oxygen to circulate evenly, to saturate the blood - feeding every cell in the body, muscles, brain, organs, and skin, while allowing the metabolism to burn fat and work more efficiently.
Guest blogger, Melanie White, PS weight management expert, tells us there's more to weight loss than simply cutting out the sugar.
Lately, it's sugar that has been demonised, as far as diet is concerned.
It causes us to gain weight, it creates cravings and it affects our energy and moods. It also sets us up for chronic diseases. All these facts are scientifically proven.
Why Sugar is now the Bad Guy
There are numerous medical studies about the adverse effects of sugar on our health.
And in addition, sugar has taken two big hits in the media over the past year.
- The World Health Organisation announced it would reduce the recommended maximum sugar intake to just 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for an adult (down from 10 teaspoons). http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2015/sugar-guideline/en/
- In October 2016, the sugar industry was exposed for trying to shift the blame for heart disease away from sugar and over to fat, in 1965 - despite medical evidence at the time, that excess sugar consumption increases health risks. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-12/how-big-sugar-enlisted-harvard-scientists-to-influence-how-we-eat-in-1965
So, when it comes to weight gain – is sugar really to blame?
With all the negative press surrounding sugar, some of us are quitting sugar altogether, swapping sugar for 'natural' substitutes or pledging to cut out sweet foods for good.
From what we know about sugar, surely this has to be a positive, as far as our health goes. However, the question remains – when it comes to weight gain - is sugar really to blame?
As a health and wellness coach who specialises in helping people change their eating habits, I have come to realise that something bigger, than just sugar - is at play.
Over the past 5 years, 95% of my clients have come to me seeking help to get over sugar. They typically show the signs and symptoms of insulin imbalance, including excess weight and 'love handles' (due to too much sugar); They suffer from sugar cravings, and struggle to manage their intake.
But while those clients definitely needed to reduce their sugar intake, we discovered that in every case, sugar was not
the only contributor to their extra kilos.
There are two distinct problems that can make it hard to quit - your beliefs, and your hormone levels.
If you can rewire your beliefs
, you will start to act differently, and find it easier to reduce, moderate or quit sugar for good.
Once you reset your hormones,
your physical cravings will diminish and you will find it much easier to make better choices.
We Know Sugar Is Unhealthy – But Saying No is Tough
Whether you have trouble with excessive intake of sugar, salt, alcohol, coffee or lack of exercise, the problem often lies in your beliefs - your own personal rules - about those foods.
Regardless of how many labels you’ve read, how many sugar alternatives you know about, or how many diet plans you follow, it more often than not goes out the window, as something sweet blindsides you on a Friday afternoon, following a stressful week.
Let's face it - if we truly believed sugar was poison, we simply wouldn't eat it. But on the flip side, if sugar has always been presented as a treat or a reward, avoiding it presents a challenge.
Two years ago, a client came to me wanting to lose weight. She loved sweet pastries, even calling them a 'special treat.' The thought of going without pastries simply made them even more
So, I asked her to do an experiment - instead of having a restrictive, guilty mindset around pastries, I suggested she could buy a small pastry and enjoy it wholeheartedly and without guilt, the next time she had the urge, to see what would happen.
She came to our next session feeling very disappointed. She explained that, as she entered the pastry shop, she realised that she didn’t actually want the pastry anymore. All the mystique and compulsion around this special and forbidden treat was gone – because she was allowing herself to have it.
Sugar addiction can be likened to having an affair. It's secretive, forbidden, naughty and guilt-inducing. But once they're out in the open, affairs often fizzle out because the excitement and intrigue is gone.
Hormonal imbalances are another likely contributor to weight gain. Anybody who has elevated levels of the hormones insulin, leptin, ghrelin and/or cortisol, might struggle with persistent cravings for sugar and/or sweet foods.
sugar- naughty or nice?
Sure indicators and symptoms of hormonal imbalance include ‘love handles’, a ‘stress belly’, poor sleep, insatiable cravings for chocolate, and a desire for constant snacking.
However, most diets don’t address these hormonal issues, so no matter how many calories or points you count and stick to, the cravings remain. And if that isn’t enough, it’s also frustrating to learn that it is those hormonal issues that can prevent you from losing body fat.
As a weight-loss expert, I strongly recommend you look at your relationship with sugar and any possible hormonal imbalances first, before you consider just quitting sugar, as a silver bullet to down-sizing.
As we all know, it can be super hard to break up with something so sweet!