Posture, Deep Breathing, Sleeping, Water, Inversion and
By Terry-Ann Coley
Our health can be vastly improved with some simple adjustments to our lifestyle. Poor lifestyle habits that have taken root in our lives lead to or worsen ailments in our bodies. Bad posture, rarely drinking water, sleep loss, shallow breathing and lack of physical activity are typical poor habits linked to modern ways of living. Below are 6 free and easy ways to great health.
Posture refers to the position of our body and all its parts. This position affects the alignment and balance of the spine, ligaments, joints, muscles, organs and much more. In poor posture (hunched shoulders, leaning forward, stomach pushed out, over-arched lower back, etc.) you are crunching up the disks of your spine and putting a lot of pressure on muscles and joints. Poor signals are also being sent through the body and reflexes are compromised as the nerves in the spinal cord are unable to carry out their processes effectively. Good posture takes the pressure off your joints and muscles, keeps your whole body aligned, engages your abs and makes you feel and look positive and confident.
Other benefits of Good Posture
- Prevents and relieves pain
- Promotes a balanced, healthy and energetic body
- You will look great
Now straighten up! Practice good posture while sitting, standing, driving, lifting and sleeping. Certain exercises can also help you to achieve and maintain good posture. For example, crunches, arm and torso stretches, quad strengthening and neck stretches.
Breathing is already happening without any conscious effort, so why bother with deep breathing? There are immense benefits that consciously practicing deep breathing offer:
- Improved blood and lymphatic circulation
- Greater energy level
- Reduced acidity of the body
- Happier mood
- Toxin release
- Strengthened immune system
- Building of muscles
- Better clarity, alertness and sharpness of mind
- Lower blood pressure
- Good posture
- Weight management
- Pain relief
You can schedule a deep breathing session after waking in the mornings and before sleeping at night. Breathe in deeply through your nose, hold for several seconds and breathe out through the mouth, pulling in your abdomen to release the breath and toxins faster. This technique also makes you relax instantly.
WATER IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR HEALTH. Without water every single part of our body and its functions are compromised. Our bodies are 60% to 70% water and this water is being depleted constantly through normal body functions and activities, even in sleep. We can get water from many sources, but only pure water can give us the proper hydration we need.
You don’t need to necessarily stick to the 8 glasses a day rule. Get in tune with your body to help you know when your body needs water. You can also drink water at certain specific intervals. For example, drink water when you wake, get to work, mid-morning, at lunch time, mid-afternoon and before you return home. You can have another or two when you go home, but be careful with how much you drink before bed as your sleep may be interrupted by needing to use the bathroom during the night. Pay attention to your activities and your environment (very hot, cold, congested etc.) to help you determine if your body needs water. Another method is to carry with you a 1 liter-sized bottle in the day and ensure you drink it all.
You’ve probably heard the saying ‘there will be plenty of time to sleep when you are dead.’ This should never be taken literally but as an encouragement to actively pursue your dreams. Sleep is one of the most powerful health tools we have available and should always be taken seriously. It restores our bodies, makes us more beautiful and strengthens the processes happening in our brains. As sleep can be a sensitive process, it is essential to address the inadequacies of our sleep patterns. Serotonin (sleep regulating hormone), melatonin (sleep-cycle controlling hormone), the REM and non-REM cycles and the hours we sleep are all critical sleep ingredients that give us optimal benefits.
Damaging effects of losing sleep include: physical deterioration; rapid aging; impaired concentration and memory and weight problems. In addition, we are moody, irritable and unable to concentrate for very long, making it just a really bad day.
You already sleep, so all you need to do is ensure you’re getting quality sleep.
Tips for Quality Sleep
- Make sleep time a priority
- Try to go to sleep between 9 and 10 pm
- Go to bed and rise within the same 15 minute margin
- Treat yourself well everyday(eat healthy and approach life positively)
- Develop good habits at night that support quality sleep (don’t watch TV or use your computer too near to bedtime)
- Create the ideal sleep room – comfort and serenity are your goals
- Sleep on the left hand side – According to Rosalyn Patrick, sleeping on your back or front emphasizes the S-curve of your spine unnaturally. Furthermore, keeping on the left side boosts the intestinal work occurring while you sleep.
Inversion or positioning your body upside down or at least where your heart is above your head is a means to improving blood circulation, improving spine health and rapidly boosting the health of organs and systems. Just by changing around the pull of gravity, the body reaps many benefits. Headstands, handstands, backbends, downward dog, diamond pose, plough pose, rabbit pose or simply bending and touching your toes or leaning/bending back over your bed are some ways to do inversions. You can also get an inversion table, which is an easy and fun apparatus to use.
Benefits of Inversion
- Relieves back, spinal, shoulder and other joint problems.
- Anti-aging – think about it, your skin is pulled in the opposite direction (giving you an easy face lift) and fresh nutrients and oxygen are flowing to your face, scalp and hair.
- Better respiratory, brain, kidney and circulatory functions
- Boosts positivity, confidence and fearlessness
- Stress reliever
- Strengthens muscles
- Improves digestion
- Improves posture
Warning: Inversion is not recommended if you have high blood pressure and suffer from serious eye conditions.
For many of us exercise is either a dreaded task or something we just can’t find the time to fit in. While I wholeheartedly also recommend aerobic, strengthening and other types of exercises, stretching is an easy way to include health-boosting exercise into your lifestyle. Stretching can be done within a few minutes, feels and improves daily life, however busy your schedule or the types of activities you do.
- Healthier cardiovascular system
- Better range of motion
- Reduces pain and stress
- Increases flexibility
- Improves circulation
Tips for Good Stretching Habits
- Schedule stretching time, such as when you get up and/or when you are going to bed.
- Increasingly build up the time you hold stretches for: from 5 seconds to 30 seconds.
- Be sure to do some light warm up exercises before: a little walking, dancing, whatever you enjoy.
- Learn and practice stretches ideal for your current needs. For example: when sitting in one position too long; when you need an energy boost; to de-stress and get into sleep mode; or relieve a joint pains.
- Hold the stretch steady, don’t bounce.
- Stretching should not be painful and/or uncomfortable.
Patrick, Rosalyn. Detox. Geddes and Grosset 2008.