How to breathe to your advantage
There are many things I say that I cannot live without: my parents, my puppy dog, my boyfriend, green smoothies etc. But this is not true. The one thing we all really cannot live without is breath – yet this is probably one of things we most take for granted.
Breathing is free. It’s simple. We all have access to unlimited amounts of it at any time throughout the day. Perhaps this is why we discredit it so much. If breathing were rated appropriately, we would recognise just how powerful it is as a healing tool, a mood enhancer, a pain reliever, a calming agent, and a crisis diverter.
Marc B. Levin, author of Eight Shifts for Wellness: Practical Transformative Steps to Enhance Health, Wellness, and Well-Being, says that breathing a certain way can assist us in how we relate to a situation, and therefore impact our wellness.
“Changing how we are breathing can relax the body, help our mind focus, change our emotional state and reduce the impact of stress. Changing how we are breathing can foster the self-healing powers of our body.”
The two basic ways of breathing are chest breathing and deep breathing. Many people, myself included, mostly use shallow chest breathing. I often catch myself going one worse than this and holding my breath. This is not good.
When you are deep breathing, the breath will travel all the way down to the diaphragm rather than just in the chest. Deep breathing serves to trigger relaxation, which causes the blood capillaries to expand, allowing more oxygen to travel to locations where healing is needed. Deep breathing using our diaphragm efficiently pulls oxygen into all areas of our lungs, which is more beneficial than shallow chest breathing.
These are some of the benefits you can gain by adopting a deep breathing style:
# Pain management and relief
# Reduction in anxiety
# Lowering and management of stress levels
# Deep relaxation
# The ability to stay present in the moment
# Easing of nerves
# Freshly oxygenated cells
# Healthier lymphatic system
# Ability to see the bigger picture when it comes to challenges
# Stronger coping mechanisms
# Improved digestion
Have you ever wondered why deep breathing and the practice of yoga go hand-in-hand? This is not an accident. Yoga poses can be tricky. They call for you to twist, bend, and hold positions that can feel incredibly uncomfortable at first. Well, the breath is incorporated with each pose to allow you to let go and relax. Once your breathing is deep enough, you will be able to cope with whatever pose the teacher throws at you. This is the same in life. When you breathe deeply, you are able to cope with whatever circumstances you find yourself in.
My friend, mindfulness mentor, and yoga teacher Susana Frioni is a genius when it comes to explaining this stuff. Which is why I picked her brain for you:
What are some situations where we would benefit from just coming back and focusing on our breathing?
Every moment. In particular any time we get lost in conversation with ourselves, or find ourselves on autopilot, or perpetuating drama and about to unleash our stuff on somebody else, making decisions, listening to someone, being intimate with someone … Focusing our awareness on our breath is what pulls us back to the here and now.
What is the correct way to breathe deeply?
Observing the breath is a means of being present. However, when we force ourselves to breathe deeply we are in fact controlling and manipulating the breath… and as we all know, there’s only so long you can control and manipulate something. As a result, we are not observing reality as it is and therefore we are not present. Instead we have created an artificial reality.
The key to breathing deeply starts with the simplicity of observing the breath just as it is. As we allow ourselves to experience whatever is arising in that exact moment, we allow thoughts and impressions to pass through our awareness without becoming attached to them. Therefore, the more we let go of our mental chatter and tensions in the body, the more space we create for the breath to naturally move deeper through us.
Why do you think breath is not given the credit it deserves?
I think it has something to do with our restless search for that something more that is OUT THERE. The idea that observing our breath can have such a profound impact on us seems too simple to be true.
My mantra: Breathe and all is revealed. Love and all is healed.
How to tell if you’re a deep breather or not:
Place your right hand on your upper chest and your left hand on your abdomen in your navel area. Breathe normally. If the right hand rises first, you are upper-chest breathing. If the left hand rises first, you are deep diaphragm breathing. Another method is to see which hand rises more. If your right hand rises more, you’re a chest breather. If your left hand rises more, you are an abdomen breather. Now perform the exercise by breathing slowly through your nose and see if you notice a difference.
Let’s all take a deep breath together right now …
Sit up straight in your chair or lie down on your back. Take a slow deep breath through your nose and fill the lower portion of your lungs first and then fill the upper portion of your lungs. Then exhale slowly through your nose. Repeat the exercise.
Are you a chest breather or a diaphragm breather? Can you notice the difference in your body and mind when you focus on deep breathing?
Positive affirmation for the day: My breath is my anchor in the world.
MY GIFT TO GERSON …
I am donating 50% of all sales of my Healing Through The Holidays recipe e-book to the Gerson Institute. Gerson Therapy has saved my life, and so many others like me, and I want to do this as a gift to them. These people work so hard to get the Gerson message out, and help so many people with cancer and other chronic illnesses, and they rely on donations to make it all happen. Click here to buy your copy of Healing Through The Holidays.
Have you bought your copy of The Wellness Warrior Live Well Starter Kit + 10-Day Cleanse? Click here to find out why it’s the best $12 you’ll ever spend.
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