In the Yoga culture the saying goes, “Breath is Life.”
We take advantage of breathing. The next time you cannot think of a single one thing to be grateful for, be thankful for your breath. We release tension while we breathe. Athlete’s take advantage of how they breathe to enhance their performance. We don’t have to think about breathing while we sleep or do any other activity for that matter. Not only does it feed every single cell in the body with oxygen rich-blood, it purges the body of waste and carbon dioxide working through our circulatory system and nervous system. It balances the brain activity. Did you know that depending on the time of day, your breath is more dominant through one of your nostrils? Try this: sit up straight, take your index finger and push on your left nostril by closing it shut, breathe in, out, then plug your right, breath in and out. Cool huh? Were you aware of the subtle difference? One nostril may feel like it’s clogged or stuffy and feel that it’s easier to inhale or exhale the air out of one side than the other? Try it in the morning, afternoon and night. You will notice that if the dominate side is left in the morning, it may be your right side that is dominant in the evening.
Do you breathe through your nose or mouth? If you breathe through your mouth, please STOP now! You have to retrain yourself. It will take some focus and conscious effort to breathe correctly through your nose again. It will also take time for your nostrils to stop feeling like they are clogged. Since you stopped using your nose for its purpose, breathing this way will feel unnatural for a bit. Breathing through your mouth is gross. There is no protection from the impurities that enter through the passage way, inhaling contagious diseases. The nose is designed to protect you from this. The nose also warms the air before entering your lungs. Your mouth does not do this, so any cold air that enters the body shocks the system, doing damage to the lungs and other organs.
Where do you breathe into your body? Watch an infant breath when they are asleep, they are born breathing naturally. Before we begin, let’s try this little experiment…Lay on your back, place your left hand on your belly and your right in your chest. Take a deep breath. Does your left hand on your abdomen rise or is it the right hand on your chest?
There are 3 locations in the body where we breathe into and this is called high breathing, mid breathing or low breathing. Starting with high breathing, this is where people breath into the collar bone region and is the worst form of breathing. We breath this way when we are stressed and minimal air enters the body. People tend to be mouth breathers if they commonly breath this way. Even if we aren’t stressed, high breathing make our body think it’s distressed being prone to anxiety issues and chronic diseases. Mid breathing, or in yogi terms, Intercostal breathing. This is where most of us breath. When we take a deep inhale, feeling our chest expand outwards, we think we are doing it correctly when in fact we are not. Low breathing, or deep breathing is the best form of respiration. Pulmonary issues go away, people are less prevalent to colds, the quality of your blood increases with oxygen and healthy lungs begin to resist germs. Going back to laying supine, notice that when inhaling deeply, your abdomen is pushed out all the way along with having a broad chest. When exhaling, your diaphragm becomes concaved. Try your experiment again, where do you breathe into now? You may cough when you begin trying to breathe deeply. That is a great sign!
So, why am I telling you all this? Yes, this is something that comes natural and we are taught the rest of the information in elementary school. I’m telling you this because people do not know how to breathe. We have to be reminded of all the bad habits we picked up along the way and reeducate ourselves so we can correct it. How breathing correctly has improved my life? It has given me mental clarity, I have better control over my anxiety, I have better control over the way I project my voice, I became a better runner and it has made me more aware of being in my body.
Breathing exercise are wonderful ways to strengthen the lungs, cleanse the airway passages and lungs, develop your voice or even recharge. I’m telling you, that you won’t ever need a cup of coffee midday after a breathing technique, you will feel revitalized and energized. If you are interested in learning more, I would love to share my practice.
A yogi mentor of mine, Clara Roberts-Oss recited the following in class that I would love to share…“We have three rhythms in our body. The rhythm of our heart, the rhythm of our breath, the rhythm of our brain waves. If we are able to affect one then we can affect all three. The one we can really manipulate is our breath. By manipulating the breath, by deepening the breath, you slow down the heart, the brain waves and become more present.