Thursday, June 27, 2013

Three Things Thursday

1. SCKLM has been postponed to 29 September 2013. It’s probably the best decision but a lot of runners are not taking this lying down and I’ve read some pretty angry comments and brickbats on the interweb. Sure, things are improving but they’re not “back to normal” or “fine and dandy”.

2. Speaking of the haze, I’m still trying to get my head around why everyone is so hung up over a number. Dudes and dudettes, it’s just a number! Are you trying to tell me that you’re well and healthy when you’re hacking up like crazy, nursing a blocked nose, having difficulties breathing, feverish, splitting headaches etc because the API = 10?!?!?! Oh c’mon, your body is a better indicator! And BTW, the API is pretty much “useless” since it’s a 3-hour average and the current number is probably higher. The US and even China have done away with the API and use the AQI which incorporates the PM count. Yim posted an interesting article on the API, AQI and PM – go have a read; it’s good stuff.

3. Re-posting this note from Shilpa

Some important facts about breathing:
The better your breathing, the less breaths per minute you need to take. Twelve breaths per minute would be about the upper limit of what you should be breathing. Less than that is better. When doing focused,relaxed breathing, you should be able to reduce your breaths per minute to four.

Good breathing uses the diaphragm rather that the chest. The effects of this are to allow slower, fuller breaths. Hyperventilation is much less likely to occur in people who use the diaphragm to breathe. Among others things such as acting as a Lymphatic pump the diaphragm massages the abdominal organs and by equalising the pressure difference between the thoracic and abdominal cavities, prevents the upward movement of organs such as the stomach and gall bladder, helping to correct acid reflux and gall bladder problems.

Bad breathing tends to be localised in the upper chest and rapid chest breathing is the hallmark of classic hyperventilation or over breathing. People who hyperventilate usually say that they can't take a full or satisfying breath and run out of breath easily. They feel they need to breathe more but, if they try find that it makes them feel worse.

Over breathing should be avoided at all times & especially during the haze

To Avoid chest/over breathing:

1. Maintain an upright posture at all times as much as possible to allow for diaphragmatic breathing. If sitting make sure you are not leaning back on your chair.
2. As you sit upright you will notice a slight tone in the abdominal muscles but make sure to relax all the secondary muscles of breathing such as chest & shoulders.
3. Breath only through the nose as mouth breathing is detrimental on two counts - It induces over breathing/gulping too much air and the toxins inhaled can stay in the lungs for up to 60 to 120 days. Nasal breathing on the other hand can filter it out and it can leave the body in 15 to 20 mins. In addition to acting as a filter, the nose also humidifies, adjusts the temperature and regulates the flow (in and out) – essential roles when you’re exposing yourself to the outside polluted air 20,000 times a day. Interestingly, we’re most vulnerable to this while asleep and should ideally sleep on our left side* (see below)
4. The chest should not move when you are breathing. You will feel the gentle rise & fall of your belly particularly the area just below the ribcage (around the diaphragm area).

Try to remain in a cooler environment to avoid heavy breathing. The warmer the temp, the greater the risk of over breathing. Do not wear tight fitting garments as that will restrict the movement of breathing muscles. Eat light & as little animal protein & processed foods as possible as this too can cause over breathing.

Try this simple exercise:

1. Sit upright (try not to lean against the chair)
2. Maintain a closed mouth and nose breath only.
3. Relax the whole body particularly the forehead, jaws, shoulders
4. Become aware of your breath by placing your palm on your belly and feel the gentle rise & fall of your belly. Maintain the slight tone of your belly- this happens naturally as you sit up tall/upright
5. Then place one palm under the nostrils and the other on the chest. If you are feeling too much draft of air going into and coming out of your nostrils chances are your chest is moving & you are breathing too much. On the other hand when you are breathing lightly and feeling a very slight draft of air going in and coming out, you will notice that your chest muscles hardly move at all! The ideal is when they don't move at all!!!
6. To prevent the chest from moving: Reduce the amount of air breathed in & breathed out. Especially during this haze. Breathing too much air is detrimental and will make you more breathless! It will also make you more susceptible to colds, coughs, virus attacks.
7. Reduce the depth of air being breathed in and out
8. Maintain relaxed diaphragm/breathing muscles.
9. Try shorter inhalations & relaxed exhalations - just relaxing the diaphragm will help
10. You may experience slight air hunger (a need to breathe more to compensate for this. Instead swallow & avoid the urge to do this) This is when there will be dilation of bronchioles and you will feel greater oxygenation
11. Try to remain conscious of your breath for at least 3-5 mins. Just being aware of your breath will slow it down.
12. During the day try this simple exercise many times and you will feel a noticeable difference by the evening. Try this and let me know if it helped!

Low-volume breathing often reduces the effort of breathing, leads to relaxation of respiratory muscles, and improves the function of the diaphragm.

Other tips for good breathing/good health:

1. Cold water showers are much better for your breathing & overall health rather than warm/hot showers
2. Sleep on your side & not on back (preferably on left)
3. Supplements such as Omega 3 found in fish oil, flaxseed oil
4. Magnesium; B Vitamins & Co Enzyme Q10
5. Add more fresh turmeric, ginger, garlic & onion to your cooking.

Recipe : If you have a cold or cough or fatigue try this recipe : Cayenne or any other chillie pwdr a great cure for pretty much everything. Boil water on the stove, and add cayenne or any chillie pwdr (hotter the better) crushed garlic (4 cloves), half an onion, and grated ginger. THIS COMBINATION IS AMAZING. It is SO powerful. The most vital ingredients are the cayenne and garlic, but the onion and ginger are also very helpful. Make sure and boil everything until the onion is mushy, and the garlic is too. Keep a lid on, but every so often inhale the steam from the boiling remedy.. very soothing! Pour it into a glass and drink the whole thing. It is very potent. You can add honey (make sure liquid is not hot when you add honey. It has to be brought to room temp if you add honey) to it.

Other useful tips:

1. Nasal wash with salt water once a day (avoid if you have ear infection). Water should not be too warm, just tepid and not too salty (like ocean water)
2. If you find that the mucosa in your nose (inside your nose) is very dry, lubricate it with olive oil or coconut oil.
3. Avoid too much animal protein as it will make you over breathe & fatigued easily. Eat lightly cooked meals.
4. You will find that when you breathe lightly you will not feel hungry easily and be much more energised despite the haze.

The body is intelligent and can adapt to any conditions provided we provide it with the:

• Right Food, Enough hydration
• Light breathing so that we get enough oxygen & maintain the right pH balance.
• Yoga stretches which will induce light breathing & relaxation of the body & mind.
• Avoid strong breathing practices & heavy exercise which induce mouth breathing & over breathing during the haze


Sit or stand upright as you go about your day. This will enable diaphragmatic action & prevent you from chest breathing & hyperventilation The current haze can lead to hyperventilation & a rise in respiratory ailments. To prevent this: Keep your mouth shut and ensure that you are only breathing through the nose at all times. This will help prevent colds, coughs, mucous & phlegm production.

If you breathe imperceptibly through just your nose, something astonishing happens – your bronchial tubes enlarge naturally.Breathing lightly will help stop sneezing, get rid of headaches, reduce appetite, keep you slimmer, calm your mood. In challenging times like this your body will be better able to cope!

Thursday’s Mantra: 3Rs - Rest, Re-hydrate, Re-fuel.

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