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One Small Change

Breathing Technique for Healthy Travel

aarongustafson / flickr

I’m sitting deep in coach between a fidgety three-year-old with a runny nose and, across the aisle, a middle-age woman with a frightening cold sore who for some reason keeps smiling at me. I’m trying to focus on my newspaper and not worry, but the lead story is about an outbreak of swine flu on a cruise ship.

I’m doomed, I presume. Just about every time I fly I catch a cold or flu, and this time will probably be no different. Unless….

Al Lee, the author of Perfect Breathing and my advisor for this month’s One Small Change experiment, says that whenever he travels or feels an illness coming on, he does Healing Breathing. He cites studies done with AIDS patients that show “this type of breathing actually increases the number of white cells in the bloodstream that fight infection.”

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Inhale through your nose and visualize your breath coming in through the top of your head and follow it down to the bottom of your stomach.
  2. Hold it there and imagine it as a ball of energy.
  3. On the exhale, imagine your breath as water coursing down from your stomach and out the balls of your feet.
  4. Hold before inhaling again. Repeat a total of 3 times.
  5. Inhale as in step 1.
  6. Hold as in step 2.
  7. On the exhale, imagine your breath as water coursing from your stomach, around and up your spine, down your arms, and out the palms of your hands.
  8. Hold before inhaling again. Repeat a total of 3 times.
  9. Inhale as in step 1.
  10. Hold as in step 2.
  11. On the exhale, imagine your breath as water coursing from your stomach, around and up your spine, up and around the top of your head, and out through your eyes.
  12. Hold before inhaling again. Repeat a total of 3 times.
  13. Inhale as in step 1.
  14. Hold as in step 2.
  15. On the exhale, let the breath permeate your entire body and imagine it seeping out of your skin.
  16. Hold before inhaling again.

Although it sounds a bit out there and I worry that all the extra inhaling might actually bring in more germs, I give it a try. Besides helping take my mind off the kid and that woman’s lip, it settles and centers me like all the other breathing exercises I’ve tried so far.

Lee also says that this type of breathing may help heal injuries or fight disease in particular parts of the body. “As you exhale, focus on sending energy to that spot. At the very least, we know it improves blood flow to the area, which theoretically should aid in the healing process.”

Although it may be coincidence, 10 days later as I write this I have none of the anticipated sniffles or scratchiness from the trip. In fact, I’m intrigued enough to have written the drill on the back of a business card that I tucked into my travel briefcase. I intend to experiment some more the next time I’m at 30,000 feet.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Health, Travel, Disease

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