At this very moment, as you read this, how is your breath? Is it quick and shallow? Is it deep and measured? Is your breath staggered? Is it slow and even?
In general, we tend to breathe shallowly throughout our day, using only a small percentage of our actual lung capacity. And we tend to do this especially when we are stressed out. According to this Yoga U article, this can mean our body isn’t able to optimally distribute oxygen-rich blood and can cause health issues ranging from depression to heart disease to poor sleep patterns.
Deep breathing — which includes expanding the diaphragm (the muscle membrane that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity) as you inhale slowly and exhale slowly — is something you can do anytime, anywhere and should try to do throughout the day.
It has many benefits, including helping to lower high blood pressure, trigger the parasympathetic system (which puts our bodies and minds into a calm, relaxed, balanced state), decreasing adrenaline levels, giving the kidneys a boost by breaking down salt in the blood, helping to improve poor blood circulation and increasing endorphin levels, among many others.
But one of the biggest positives of deep breathing is its ability to bring our minds to the present moment. The breath connects us to life. So coming back to the breath, filling our lungs with oxygen-enriched air and allowing it to heal us from the inside out, is such an important and truly simple practice we can incorporate into our daily lives. Like any habit, it’ll take some time, but start with baby steps, perhaps a few of these mindful, simple breathing exercises a few minutes a day and then add a few minutes more as the days progress, etc.
Also, try to get in the habit of checking your breath throughout the day, when you’re driving and in a traffic jam, when you’re thinking, when you’re listening to someone talk, when you’re concentrating or multi-tasking. Notice how often you subconsciously hold the breath and try to get in the habit of breathing deeply through every task, especially the stressful ones.
Trust me — your lungs, your heart, your brain, your blood … all the rest of your organs will thank you.
Namaste everyone ❤