It’s a new year – and there is no better time to go back to basics and start new! The two most fundamental aspects of life are water and breath. Ironically, these are commonly forgotten by most people today. Sure, we all breathe, our lungs are constantly helping us out with that, and we all drink fluids to a certain degree. But how often do you actually take the time to really breathe – those deep, relaxing breaths that replenish and nourish your body? My guess is not too often. And how often do you find yourself at the end of the day with a parched throat and wonder why?
In our go-go-go society, there isn’t much time to just sit with your body and breathe, but breath is such an essential part of life and for many people, is considered a healing power. Andrew Weil, a guru in Integrative Medicine, praises the power of breath as a “useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind.” Breath helps to reduce and manage stress and relax the body. Slow deep breathing helps to calm the body, telling it there is no need for crisis mode. According to Weil, proper breathing expands your abdomen rather than your chest. Abdominal breathing allows one to breathe fully, using total lung capacity, whereas chest breathing puts more of a strain on the accessory muscles of the neck and ribs, and limits lung capacity. So, tonight before you go to bed just take 30 seconds to breathe. Place your hand on your abdomen and breathe in and out through your nose, moving the abdomen up and down. Relax your body.
The first things I ask my clients to do are 1. Practice breathing and 2. Drink water. Most of us are aware of the importance of drinking enough water. Getting our daily requirement of water helps our organs perform their functions, keeps our skin clear and hydrated and allows physical action in our bodies to flow smoothly. Even with this knowledge, it can still be challenging to drink all the water our bodies deserve daily. In the summer, when we tend to exert more energy and spend prolonged time in the sun, drinking plenty of water is critical. Those who are not drinking enough may experience poor digestion, sluggish thinking, skin breakouts, bad breath, fatigue and even crazy cravings!
To start your day right, set a large glass of water by your bed each night and drink it when you wake up. When the first thing that flows through your body each morning is water, it pulls out toxins left over from the previous day and freshens your system for the day ahead. Keep a bottle of water accessible throughout the day, whether you are on the go or at a desk. Having one close by will remind you to take a sip when thirsty. The first sip will usually let you know how much more water you need. A sip or two may be enough, or you may need a big glass. If you drink most of your daily water before early evening, you most likely will not be thirsty before bed and you can avoid those 3AM “calls”.
As far as how much water you should drink each day, that really depends on your body type and your level of activity. The rule of thumb is 8, 8-ounce glasses a day, but if you find yourself painfully forcing down that 8th glass or wanting desperately to drink the 9th glass, adjust accordingly. You and your neighbor are designed differently, so be sure to listen to your body and you will be all right.
For more information on breathing, click here