Deep Breathing, Yoga for Exercise – Natural Qi Spring Newsletter

Natural Qi Newsletter
Breathing In Health and Wellness

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Melani Bolyai, owner/acupuncturist of Natural Qi


Warm weather is finally here! Days are longer, flowers are in bloom, and the spirit of anticipation fills the air. The season calls us to embrace the spirit of rebirth and possibility in our lives.

This newsletter looks at renewal and creativity. You’ll find articles about the restorative power of deep breathing, and how Chinese Medicine can support pregnancy and fertility. You’ll also find a tasty salad recipe!

As usual, I’m always happy to answer any of your questions. I look forward to speaking to you soon!


Deep Breathing for Better Health

Breath is the most-essential physical need of the human body. The quality of one’s breath can deeply affect a person’s nervous system, circulation, emotions, and overall health. Since we have the ability to control our breath, we can improve the quality of our breath to improve our health.

Centered, calming breath can help us release stress and tension and improve energy levels. The expanding and contracting motions of deep breathing massage and detoxify internal organs, and promote blood and lymph circulation. Deep breathing also increases blood oxygen, bringing energy and nutrients to the whole body, supporting overall good health. Improving breathing habits is not only beneficial, but also easy!

Ever notice the ease with which a baby breathes? Watch while they are sleeping on their back–their stomachs freely move up and down with each inhale. –Or think back to the last time you exercised and really exerted yourself. Your ribs and lungs were expanding and contracting fully with no thought. This kind of full engagement of the body, and easy motion in the torso shows us the proper mechanics of deep breathing. Note that, in these examples, deep, easy breathing is effortless! As humans, we are designed knowing how to breathe deeply with great ease.

The mechanics of breathing are fairly simple. Breathing is controlled by the large muscle between the chest and abdomen called the diaphragm. When a person breathes in, the diaphragm drops, creating a vacuum in the chest, so the lungs expand, and in doing so, draw in new air. When a person exhales, the diaphragm rises to expel air before the next new breath. In an ideal situation, the whole chest and abdomen should expand and contract. The ribs and back relax and expand to accommodate each breath, and the belly softens and expands to allow breath to fill the body fully.

Many people, however, have developed the pattern of not breathing to their full capacity. They hold their bellies in, and only breathe into the upper part of their lungs. This kind of breath is sometimes referred to as “chest breathing” or “shallow breathing.” Humans develop shallow breathing tendencies as the result of experiencing stress, pain, fear or upset. In the short term, controlling the breath can keep pain at bay or create a feeling of “being in control.” Unfortunately, long-term shallow breathing habits lower a body’s capacity to intake oxygen, and can compromise health and wellbeing.

If you wish to breathe deeply, let your belly relax and soften, and draw air into the lower abdomen, filling the torso up like you would a glass with water–from the bottom up. If you put your hand on your belly, you should feel your belly expand as you draw breath in. You may also put your hands on your ribs and notice expansion in this area as you inhale. Try to let your breath fill your torso starting with your lower belly, and move up to through your chest.

Remember–when breathing deeply, the main thing you need to do is simply relax. Your body knows how to breathe, and you don’t need to muscle or push it to make it happen. Breathing should be a release of tension, not a forced activity.

Click on the following link: Natural Qi’s Breathing Video, to find a deep breathing video with an exercise to help you practice good breathing habits. You deserve to breathe in good health!

Cooper Tip: Downward Dog?

I may not belong to a fancy gym, but if you’ve ever seen me wake up from a nap, you’d know that I’m an expert on deep breathing (all right, yawning) and stretching.

One of the ways you humans can develop these skills is through the practice of yoga. Yoga helps you relax and connect more to your body, as well as develop an awareness of breath, and build strength and flexibility.

Yoga classes are available throughout the city, and simple videos and books can get you started. I highly recommend investigating the pose “downward dog.” It’s one of my favorites!

Acupuncture, Herbs and Fertility

The blossoming of warmer weather lauds a time of creativity and new life. One of the beautiful ways in which humans can embrace their creativity is by experiencing pregnancy and birth. As a fertility specialist, I have the great privilege of helping many of my patients become pregnant.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – both acupuncture and herbs – is very effective in supporting fertility and Assisted Reproductive Technology procedures like IVF. Some studies suggest that a woman can increase chances of conception up to 35% when acupuncture is performed on IVF patients.

TCM is so effective because it treats the root cause of fertility problems. Each treatment begins with a thorough investigation into the patient’s individual infertility symptoms. Once I know the root cause of the problem, I treat the patient with an individualized regimen of acupuncture and herbs. Treatment is designed to bring the patient to optimum overall health and optimum reproductive capability.

Once you have conceived, TCM also helps you maintain a healthy pregnancy. TCM regulates the reproductive system, lowering the rate of ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage. It is an effective, natural way to help mothers carry a healthy pregnancy to term.

If you want to learn more about how Traditional Chinese Medicine can support both male and female fertility, you can visit my website, for more information. As always, feel free to contact me – I would love to support you on your creative journey!

Tasty Fresh Salad Recipe

As we cycle into warmer weather, your body may crave fresh, light foods. This salad is the perfect mix or healthy greens and zippy flavors. We’ve also included an easy-to-make, tasty vinaigrette to complete the meal!

1 clove garlic
2 cups mesclun greens
2 cups young green-leaf lettuce
1 cup baby beet greens
1 cup young endive or chicory
4 scallions, white and green parts, or green garlic stems, chopped
1 cup chopped, seeded cucumbers
4 ounces mild white goat cheese, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium sweet red onion, cut into 1/8-inch slices
Tarragon Vinaigrette (see below)
3 hard-boiled eggs shelled and chopped
Half cup fresh raspberries!

1. Rub the sides and bottom of a wooden salad bowl with the garlic. Rinse, drain, and tear the greens into pieces. Place the greens, scallions, and cucumbers in the salad bowl and toss. Gently toss in the goat cheese. Add the onions. Drizzle the Tarragon Vinaigrette (or your favorite dressing) over the salad and toss lightly. Add the eggs and toss lightly. Top the salad with the raspberries and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Tarragon Vinaigrette

Half teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground green peppercorns
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme
Half teaspoon Dijon mustard

If you have questions, or would like to discuss anything you read here, please feel free to contact me. Take Care and Be Well!

Melani Bolyai
Natural Qi Acupuncture and Herbs

phone: 917-533-2097

Spring 2008