Can breathing detoxify your body?: “Practicing deep yogic breathing will assist your organs in the detoxification process.” – Yoga Journal
The first time I heard of “detoxing,” I was sitting in 8th grade math class, eavesdropping on a conversation between two girls:
“The girl at the Bobbi Brown counter said that the secret to clear skin is drinking water. It washes out your toxins,” one girl explained. And so my long obsession with carrying water around began.
In subsequent years, I heard and read stories to the contrary of this simple principle. Weren’t colonics and wheatgrass required for true detox? Mustn’t we follow a rigorous cleanse program?
I’ve also come across proponents of water (and other basic activities) as detoxifiers, claiming that the body is more sophisticated than we give it credit. While fancy detoxes may have their place, the organs we’re born with know what they’re doing.
I tend to side with the latter theory. Our bodies are pretty amazing at healing themselves. We just have to provide them with some fundamental tools: real food, exercise, water (of course), and, as it turns out, conscious breathing. Yes, breathing is detoxifying.
We often hear claims that deep breathing boosts immunity by lowering stress. Makes sense. It also turns out, however, that conscious breathing “alter the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion,” according to a recent study. Stronger immunity, improved use of energy, and a more balanced blood sugar will better equip the body to handle toxins encountered in daily life—including those found in food.
Moreover, deep breathing helps our bodies absorb vitamins and nutrients more efficiently. When we deliver oxygen to our bodies, our cells can continue the process of breaking down nutrients into usable energy. When we’re breathing deeply, oxygen in more evenly distributed in the body, boosting this cycle of nutrient absorption.
Fortunately, you don’t have to trot off to a meditation retreat to reap the detoxifying benefits of conscious breathing. The following breathing exercise recommended by yogi Angie Newson can be done while you wait in line at the café or sit at your office desk:
Sit (or stand) tall and relax your shoulders. Close your eyes, become aware of how you feel in your body, and turn your attention to your breath. Inhale for a count of four; exhale for a count of six. Repeat for as long as desired. You may also envision a white or golden light filling your whole being. Imagine toxins and emotional debris quietly making their exit.
So what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath 🙂
More on detox: 5 Things I Learned from Gwyneth Paltrow (and her goop diet)
Photo: Tess Mayer via Flickr, Mary Hood