To breathe means: to take air into the lungs and then expel it, especially as a regular physiological process. Easy, right?
Amazingly we need to breathe to stay alive and we do it 24 hours a day; 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 breaths a year. It’s the first thing we do on our own when we enter the world and the last thing we ever do, and yet so many of us do not breathe properly.
If you want to observe incredible breathing, watch a newborn. They naturally practise deep, diaphragmatic breathing by using the diaphragm – a muscle under the lungs – to pull air into the lungs. Visually, you’ll see the belly expand and chest rise as they inhale air through the nose and into the lungs. As they exhale, the belly contracts.
For many people, this kind of breathing is no longer instinctive. Instead, many of us have become shallow chest, or thoracic, breathers – inhaling through our mouth, holding our breath and taking in less air. Cultural expectations, including the desire to have a flat stomach, encourage holding our breath and sucking in our stomachs, further tightening our muscles.
Shallow breathing causes:
- High blood pressure.
- Blood circulation.
- Sleeping problems.
- Digestive problems.
- Hinders decision making.
- Blocks natural instincts.
- Posture problems.
- Deprives organs and muscles of oxygen.
- And many more issues.
- Decreases stress, increases calm.
- Relieves pain.
- Detoxifies the body (by stimulating the lymphatic system).
- Improves immunity.
- Increases energy.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Improves digestion.
- Helps support correct posture.
- Aids decision making.
- Supports intuition.
- Fully facilitates organs and muscles.
- And much more.
How do you breathe deeply?
Take a breath through your nose, right down into your stomach, filling your lungs. As they expand and fill, hold for a couple of seconds and breathe out, slowly and in a controlled manner. Like you are blowing bubbles out for a child. Repeat this a few times to feel the full benefit.
In this day and age, we are not conditioned to breathe deeply, but if you do this technique a few times a day, when you’re stressed or overwhelmed, before bed or when you need to make decisions, you will find a wave of calm fall over you.
Breathe in… and out…in…and out…in and out.
How often do you breathe deeply?