Breathing is an autonomic activity, meaning it happens without thinking. Our human brain sends messages to the respiratory muscles to carry out natural, unconscious inhalation and exhalation. Many people fail to realize breathing is not just an activity necessary for our survival, but that the way a person breathes can also have an incredible effect on their body.
With every inhale, oxygen enters the human body, moving blood, lymph fluid, and toxins around in our bodies. Deep breaths allow the oxygen to enter the cells, allowing for cellular regeneration. With every exhale, carbon dioxide and other toxins and waste leave the body.
However, as Canadian holistic healer, William McGirr (@william_mcgirr) points out, many people are “under-breathing” or not taking deep breaths often enough. McGirr is the founder of Two Peacocks (@twopeacockss), an alternative wellness studio based in Manitoba focused on reiki and healing. He says breathing is the main way to detox the body and improve the function of the body and the mind.
“Your lungs are the pumps of the lymphatic system. Effective breathing exercises will clear obstructions; stagnation while oxygenating deep tissues, organs, and glands in the entire body. This is arguably the most effective detoxification healing practice available to all humans currently on Earth,” McGirr says.
Benefits of Effective Breathing
Effective deep breathing comes with a plethora of benefits, explains McGirr. Deep breaths promote better blood flow, increase oxygen levels, and help remove the toxins from the body more effectively, he says. Oxygenated blood also ensures smoother function of the vital organs, including the immune system. Research shows toxin-free blood can help ward off infection-causing germs and strengthen immunity.
In addition, effective breathing slows down the heart rate and helps the brain to wind down, he says. Breathing exercises can relax the mind and the body, calm down anxiety, and even improve sleep quality. Even people with insomnia have been advised by health practitioners to do breathing exercises and meditation before bedtime.
5 Steps for Effective Breathing
The great news is that breathing exercises can be done almost anywhere and at any time, says William McGirr. Here are the five steps for an effective breathing session:
- Get comfortable. McGirr says that any position that feels comfortable will do, whether it is sitting on a chair or standing in front of a mirror.
Bring awareness to the lungs. “As you inhale, watch and feel your lungs expand, spreading your ribs. As you exhale, watch them gather back towards each other, hugging your spine,” McGirr says.
Find a breathing rhythm. Try to inhale for four slow counts, hold for six, exhale for eight counts. Repeat this set at least three times. As you practice over time, you will be able to do more sets.
Observe your body. McGirr says that it is important to observe the body during the breathing exercises. “Release control of the breath and allow your body to breathe as it likes, noticing how your breathing pattern has changed,” McGirr says.
Relaxing massage. McGirr says that the breathing exercises can be finished with a relaxing massage. “Place your fingers over your ribs and massage in between the ribs, as long as it feels good,” McGirr says.
Those interested in detoxifying their body can join McGirr’s #FreeYourPeacock movement. Follow William McGirr on Instagram, discover more mindful breathing exercises, and experience the difference between conscious breathing and survival breathing.