BREAThe: a practice of living better.
Breathing is often something we take for granted only hearing the message "breathe" when we feel extreme high levels of stress or emotions that are clearly taking over. This instruction often leads to us taking a labored deeper breath or a sudden gulp but are reflexive actions but not necessarily the the action we need to feel better. Breathing deep and full on an ongoing basis is side effect of taking time to regularly practice the many different ways to consciously breathe and condition the muscles and body-mind out of a breathing pattern that limits. Good breathing techniques offer us the gift of more energy and vitality, better digestion and wellbeing on all levels, better sleep, handling stress better to grow personally and professionally and less pain equals more pleasure in life and joy!
Breathing is the act of taking in oxygen through our nose or mouth into our lungs where it is then passed through areolis in the bronchioles to the blood in the arteries to other systems right down to the cells and veins back into the lungs to exhale and release the carbon dioxide out of the body. This exchange is continuous and necessary for us to have energy and to be alive. Our posture, our patterns, and our emotions are all linked to the nervous system and held or experienced in the body through how we breathe.
Here are some simple tools to begin exploring the breath and a guided meditation by Kelly Atkins for you to practice with at home.
1. Begin by noticing where you feel your self breathing naturally. Sitting in a quiet room, simply allow yourself to breathe naturally and notice where you feel the breath going primarily. Is it in the front or back?? Mainly chest or more deep into the belly? What does your breathe feel like? Is is jerky? Labored? Rhythmic? Are you judging the breathe or trying to control it??
2. Now begin to notice how the body moves with the breath. The heart and lungs going down subtly on the inhale and rising on the exhale. Begin to enhance this movement . Moving with the breath.
3. What is the origin of the breath? Just like an earthquake has an epicenter, so does your breath. Where does your breath begin??
4. Is there a noticeable difference between the length of inhale or exhale? Are they equal?
5. Does the breath feel deep or shallow??
6. How would you describe the quality of your breath, what word or words would you use??? Let descriptive words or images rise without altering in any way. Is there a color or shape to your breath??
After you've explored these questions do a check in. How do you feel? How's your energy on a scale from 1-10 (as comparable to before you did the exercises?) What do you notice in your body over all?
These exercises can be done in as little as 5 minutes and yet have an overall effect on multiple levels and are sustained with regular practice. Consider adding them in as a new "healthy habit" you can do at a stop sign, waiting in line, or while on hold on the phone.