breathe3EVERYBODY BREATHES. It’s a fundamental activity that we do all day every day. Even though it’s necessary, it’s something that we ignore.

The reality is that over 90 percent of us are using less than 50 percent of our breathing capacity. We are inhaling very shallowly, taking in a minimal amount of oxygen. On the flip side, our exhalations are also marginal, which releases only a small amount of carbon dioxide. By taking in a less than ideal amount of oxygen, we are not fueling our blood and bodies with sufficient energy. By not expelling enough carbon dioxide, we are harboring toxins and wastes in our blood streams and organs.

Shallow breathing does not provide sufficient oxygen to our brain or other cells and has been linked with degenerative disease, poor quality of life and an early onset of death.

Cancer thrives in low-oxygen environments
In 1931, Otto Warburg won a Nobel Prize for the connection he discovered between oxygen and cancer. His studies showed that the number one cause of cancer is a lack of oxygen in the cellular environment. Warburg determined that cancer cells are anaerobic, meaning they thrive in an oxygen-depleted environment. Conversely, cancer cells cannot live in an oxygen-rich environment.

What Warburg discovered for cancer is true for all degenerative disease. Oxygen and a healthy pH are the foundational keys to a healthy body. Breathing, the body’s most basic communication system, is the first thing we should examine when fatigue or disease occur.

If you haven’t been diagnosed with a disease, how do you know if your breathing is shallow? Review this checklist to see if any of the following applies to you:

  • You experience shortness of breath.
  • You have chronic fatigue.
  • You have poor endurance. You wake up exhausted even after eight hours of sleep.
  • You sleep restlessly.
  • You suffer from allergies or asthma.
  • You are prone to colds and the flu.
  • You are frequently constipated.
  • You have pain in your shoulders and/or back.
  • You have weight problems.

Although many of the above symptoms do not solely result from shallow breathing, a combination of three or more symptoms suggests that your oxygen levels may be low. Emotional stress and a sedentary lifestyle also contribute to chronically low oxygen levels in your cells, leaving you feeling exhausted and depleted. Environmental stressors, such as heat or air conditioning, cell phone usage, food additives, overeating, air, water and noise pollution also contribute to low oxygen.

What if you don’t have a problem? First of all, it’s great if you’re not experiencing noticeable breathing problems. But better breathing can still take your health and energy to the next level. You can experience this for yourself with Qi Breathing. This is an exercise that can help amp up your oxygen and energy levels:

Qi Breathing technique
Here’s a quick 3-minute breathing exercise that can leave you feeling energized AND peaceful at the same time.

  • Step 1 — While sitting upright, spine straight, head level, take a few moments to slow your breathing and relax your body and mind. Let go of your mental to-do list and give yourself permission to take three minutes out of your day.
  • Step 2 — Focus on an intention you’d like to create as a result of this exercise. Make it simple. One word is best, such as peace, happiness, abundance, love, calm, focus, ease.
  • Step 3 — Begin to inhale and exhale deeply, yet quickly through the nose, so that your inhalations and exhalations are the same length of time, approximately one second each. Visualize the breath moving in a circle, up the back of the spine and down the front of the spine. This circular rhythm will help your Qi, or internal energy, to circulate and increase rather than to remain stagnant in your body. Incorporate a rocking movement with your breathing. On the exhalation, rock forward (toward your knees). On the inhalation, rock backward (upright). Make sure that your focus is on the inhalation and drawing in energy rather than on the exhalation. Bring your awareness fully to the breath and maintain your focus there to allow your mind to quiet. This can bring you into a deeply peaceful and blissful state while also feeling incredibly energized. (Breathe about 2 minutes.)
  • Step 4 — Slow your breathing to a relaxed rhythm. Take a moment to enjoy the increased energy, Qi, flowing through your body. Ideally, reflect with gratitude upon your intention.

Qi Breathing will attune you to your natural breathing depth and internal energy and help you to increase both over time. It is designed to give you more energy, clarity and helps you to focus and learn. We recommend doing this at least once a day.

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Deanna Reiter, M.A., and Troy Stende, the developers of Qi Breathing, will teach an experiential workshop on breathing for better health on December 6-7 at the Embassy Suites Hotel Airport in Bloomington, MN. For more information and to learn a 3-minute version of Qi Breathing to increase your energy and improve your mood, visit www.experienceqibreathing.com.

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