Yes, that might seem like a no-brainer for a lot of us. But have you ever really taken a few moments of your day to check in to see how you are breathing? I checked in on my own breath about 8 years ago for the first time. I noticed at the time, how shallow it was. I was breathing up into my shoulders, with first filling up my chest. Which meant that I was breathing a lot more than I needed to. And needless to say, I was totally stressed out at this time too. I imagine that I looked a lot like a puffed pigeon at this time, running around.
The normal range of breaths an adult takes is 12-20 breaths per minute. If you are not utilizing your lungs to their full capacity, you are expending energy that could be conserved and used for some other bodily function.
While observing my breathing, I noticed that I was not even filling up my entire lungs with my breath. I was breathing very shallow, which is not the way we are meant to breathe. Think of what a baby looks like when they are sleeping – their little bellies rise and fall with every breath that they take. This is how we are to breathe.
Our lungs actually take up a large amount of space in our chest cavity. On the front side of our chest, our lungs reach down to the tip of the eighth rib on exhalation, and about the eleventh rib on inhalation. The apex of the lungs reaches all the way up above the clavicle. The muscle that rests underneath the base of the lungs is the diaphragm. It lies like a canopy under the lungs. The diaphragm contracts and moves downwards and flattens on inhalation, and raises back up on exhalation.
Once I figured out that your chest AND your belly should be expanding on your inhalation, it was a game changer. The longer your inhalations, the more oxygen you are getting into your lungs. Which means the more of the all important oxygen gets to more of your cells with each breath.
This is important to pay attention to. Here’s a list of the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing:
Relieves physical muscle tension
Allows the mental function to slow and relax
Body and mind connection
Calms and centers
Activates parasympathetic nervous system
Releases natural wastes, such as carbon dioxide
Gives the internal organs a gentle massage
Increases the oxygen to all cells
Strengthens the lungs
Slows your heart rate
Lowers your blood pressure
Increases blood flow to muscles
Reduces anger and frustration
Courtesy of: https://www.nmu.edu/wellness/sites/DrupalWellness/files/UserFiles/9.19_final.pdf
With the list of these great benefits of what deep breathing can do, you should jump on the bandwagon and give it a whirl. Here’s how:
Practice your breathing either lying down or sitting up. Imagine your breath happening in 3 parts. The first part happens in your belly – as you inhale, feel and watch your belly expand. With the same inhalation, watch as your belly fills, the breath will begin to fill up your chest cavity. Once your chest expands, inhale all the way up to the tops of your lungs – above your clavicles.
Retain the breath for a moment, and when you are ready to exhale, control the exhale from your clavicles first to the chest, and then to the belly.
The great thing about diaphragmatic breathing, is that you don’t need to worry about when and how often to do it. You can do it whenever you remember, wherever you are. With regular practice, you will realize over time that your belly becomes a natural part of breathing when you’re not even practicing. it.
So go ahead, and sip the #sweetnectaroflife.
#breathing #diaphragmaticbreathing #deepbellybreathing #breathingexercise