The simple act of breathing. An act so vital and integral to our function, yet to most of us remains unnoticed. Understanding your breath and its intimate connection to your being, brings profound benefits into your life.
Breath can be described in three actions. Inhalation, Retention and Exhalation.
As you inhale, your lungs take in fresh air, the oxygen within is absorbed into your bloodstream and then sent to every part of your body.
Exhaling releases gaseous waste products formed by metabolism, like carbon dioxide from your body.
The space or transition between inhaling and exhaling is called retention. Inhaling then holding in your breath, increases the rate of gaseous exchange in your lungs.
This means increased levels of oxygen from your lungs move into your bloodstream, while also increasing the amount of waste ready to be expelled on exhalation.
Just by bringing your focus to the concept of breath, you might find yourself now becoming more consciously aware of your breathing pattern than you were ten minutes ago.
How does it feel? Do you draw in deep, meaningful breaths with a calm, controlled exhalation? Or are they shallow and weak, almost holding your breath in?
As our modern society creates more and more sedentary workplaces and leisure, (I’m looking at you Netflix!) we find ourselves forming unhealthy breathing habits without realising the profound effect it has on our overall well being.
Shallow and poor breathing habits contribute to a range of chronic stress related health conditions. Not to mention viruses and bacteria thrive in an oxygen deprived environment.
Ever felt overwhelmed and someone has said, “Just breathe”?
Thank that wise person because there is truth in their words! How you breathe directly effects your body and minds function.
Excitement increases your breathing, preparing your body for action. While a surprise may bring a gasp, a short burst of oxygen to your brain, allowing for quick thinking.
One of the reasons I enjoy tea, is the ritual behind it. You understand that when you start to make a cup of tea, prepare the loose leaf, boil the water and put aside your favourite cup, you are about to enter a sacred space. Breathing becomes slower and more thoughtful as you prepare your mind and body for the coming bliss.
Ritual is important in our lives. It is a time for preparation, reflection and appreciation.
Now imagine your life with the benefits of better breathing. The ability to approach every situation with composed, clear thinking. The capability to increase your energy levels, vitality, and immunity while supporting toxin elimination pathways. Imagine relieving tension and stress in your body simply by focusing on your breath.
Let’s begin to explore a breathing and mindfulness technique that will help relieve anxiety and stress.
- Start by finding yourself somewhere comfortable to sit with your back straight.
- Close your eyes and begin to breathe in through only your nose while visualising the invigorating air moving deep down into your lungs.
- At the end of your inhale, just notice the moment of retention, as your breath transforms into your exhale.
- Exhale through your nose, while visualising your breath moving up out of your body through your nostrils.
- At the end of each exhale bring your awareness to the moment of retention as your exhale becomes the next inhale.
- Continue to repeat this cycle but this time when you draw breath, begin to imagine the air entering your body to be refreshing and healing. On exhaling consciously let go of any negative feelings, emotions or thoughts. Removing all impurities from your mind and body.
- Notice your breathing. As your breath moves slower, your mind feels calm. Each breath is a gift and you start to feel immense gratitude.
- Continue this cycle for ten minutes with your mind focused only on your breath. If your brain wanders, just bring the attention back to your breath.
After you have finished, stand up and stretch. Bring your awareness to how you feel.
As you go about your day, remember the health and vitality that good breathing will bring.
Breathe deeply and with positive purpose.
The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi
A Life Worth Breathing by Max Strom
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown