I’m sure you are thinking: “Well… I wouldn’t be reading this if I weren’t!”. But are you really breathing? Or are you just taking in enough oxygen to keep you going? I ask this because, many people don’t realize that they are only using 10% of their lung capacity most of their day! For starters we breath unconsciously, so whatever habits we have formed with our breathing are happening automatically all day long. And most of us breath incorrectly in this habitual way. What I mean by incorrectly is that we breath very shallowly. Our lifestyles and environments cause this to happen. Many people spend hours in a day hunched over at the computer or are sedentary which causes us to breath in a shallow manner.
When I say shallow, I mean we are using only the upper 10% of our lungs! We don’t take deep breaths into the bottom of our lungs. When we do this, we are depriving our brains, nerves, glands, and internal organs of much needed oxygen. Also, when we are shallow breathing, we are not expelling enough carbon dioxide which causes toxins to build up in our bodies. Which all can cause all sorts of disease. OK, Is this enough to motivate you to start breathing more consciously? I sure hope so!
“So, what can I do?” you ask. In order to break the habit of breathing shallowly, you can start breathing mindfully with Intention. Just like breaking and/or creating any other habit, you start small. A few times a day, take a break and try some deep breathing exercises. Over time, you will create a habit of breathing more deeply throughout the day.
1. Sit up straight and notice if you are tense in any area of your body. Do some stretches to help open up these areas.
2. Start breathing deeply in and out through your nose (if you are stuffed up, you can use your mouth). But if you can use your nose that is preferable.
3. As you inhale bring the air into your belly. Starting from the bottom of the belly and moving up to your lungs – all the way to the top of your lungs.
4. As you are doing this, pay attention to the rise of your belly and your chest as the air enters. I like to have students think of filling up a pitcher of water from the bottom up.
5. When you exhale, empty slowly starting with your chest all the way down to your belly. Notice the movement as these areas “deflate”. Again, you can imagine your pitcher is emptying from the top down.
Try this exercise a few times a day for at least one week and notice the difference in how you feel. Have fun and Happy Breathing!