What does the word “inspire” mean to you? Is it something you do…or something you are?
Take a breath in.
Hold it a bit longer.
After a while, you’ll feel compelled to take another breath. Notice after this little experiment you’re now consciously aware of your breathing.
The average human takes 20,000 – 25,000 breaths a day, mostly unconsciously. We usually take breathing for granted until something goes wrong.
Conditions like asthma, COPD, heart disease and anxiety can cause breathing difficulties, and are often treated with medication, oxygen supplementation and surgery. It’s curious, since breathing is a physical and biomechanical process. Why don’t we use breath training for these conditions?
You train you body for movement…why not train your breath? Training the breath is important even if you don’t have a problem.
In his book, “Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art”, journalist James Nestor explores the power of breathing and the profound effects breath has on our health. The power of the breath has mostly been overlooked by Western science and medicine, but has been studied and practiced for thousands of years in many cultures, and is a key component in meditation and mindfulness training.
Here are a few key takeaways from “Breath”:
- Nose breathing is much preferable over mouth breathing–the nose is specifically designed to filter and warm the air we breath. Additionally, nose breathing lowers our blood pressure and helps balance our body in a wide variety of ways.
- Deep, slow breathing reduces the stress response and helps us feel more relaxed and less anxious. A longer exhale will even further trigger a relaxation response.
- Fast, shallow breathing through the mouth influences us in the opposite way–it triggers a fight, fight, or freeze response. We become anxious, can’t think straight, and experience more muscle tension.
- Breathing and lung capacity can be trained and improved. We used to believe that whatever we’re born with cannot be changed, but we now know this is not true. That’s great news if you’re willing to put in time and energy to improve your breathing.
Here’s an easy way to begin to train your breath–set a timer to go off every hour or two throughout the day. When your timer goes off, take 5 – 10 slow, deep breaths in and out through the nose without forcing or straining. Allow the abdomen to expand on the inhale and draw in naturally on the exhale. Notice that you may feel more calm, centered and focused. Continue this practice until it becomes automatic.
If you’re inspired to learn more about training the breath, mindfulness or movement practices, I’m happy to chat…just send me an email! Use the link on this page: Contact Me