“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” ~Author Unknown
On average, we take in 21,600 breaths each day, most of the time without any awareness because it is an autonomic function of our body. The lovely part about breathing is that we have the ability to turn our awareness inward at any given moment of the day to connect with our breath and check-in with our state of being. The more we practice this awareness, the easier it gets, and it soon becomes second nature. I thought it would be fun and beneficial to list some facts about breathing; some common and some that may be new. The most important take-home message I continue to pass on to my patients (and work on myself) is to breathe. It is a resource we have for our entire lives and can make some big shifts in the way we carry ourselves on a daily basis!
1. When we breathe, we typically use one of 2 patterns; abdominal/deep breathing, or chest/shallow breathing. Stop for a moment and observe the next 3 natural breaths you take. Where do you feel the most movement? You might notice that children tend to use abdominal/deep breathing while adults shallow breathe. There is much to learn from children. Watch how they breathe.
2. Breathing exercises have been found to reduce many common ailments; anxiety, depression, irritability, muscular pain and tension, headaches, poor concentration, IBS, fatigue, and digestive disorders. It is great to take time for some deep breaths, especially when you feel any of the above symptoms are getting triggered. Start by sending the breath to fill up your lower belly and back, while gently expanding your ribs. Remember to always do what’s most comfortable for you. It is easy to overdo it and end up with soreness or being out of breath. Try not to force your body to do more than its capable of at any given time. With practice, it will become easier.
3. The body requires about 550 liters of pure oxygen per day. Oxygen is one of the most important elements to sustain life. Not inhaling enough oxygen or exhaling enough carbon dioxide is what makes us feel fatigue, mental fog, and decrease our tissue function.
4. Breathing massages your organs. While deep breathing, the movement of your diaphragm massages the stomach, small intestine, liver, pancreas, and heart. Massaging these vital organs will increase blood circulation which will allow your heart to rest easier.
5. Your lungs are strengthened when you consciously deep breathe. This will help prevent respiratory problems and your lungs will be happy!
6. Deep breathing will lift your mood and energy level! If you are in the middle of an argument, stressed out about a deadline, or perhaps a little sleep deprived, take time throughout the day to count to 10 and breathe. Breathing induces pleasure-producing neurochemicals in the brain to elevate your mood and bring you back to your center.
Keep these facts and ideas in mind as you continue to navigate the inner workings of your body. Your breath is essential and well worth focusing on for an improved quality of life!