Week 18: Breath, breathing and breath again
This week’s task is what’s seemingly the most basic of human functions, yet something which most of us take for granted – Breathing.
Breathing is the foundation of life. Do you know that most people don’t breathe properly? The majority of people in the world are shallow breathers. We only use only the top portion of our lungs for our breath, whereas a full breath is one where your lungs are completely filled, your abdomen expands and there’s minimum movement on your shoulders. An average person takes about 15 breaths every minute, for about 21,600 times a day. That’s a lot of goodness and air we’re depriving our body off with shallow breathing.
Why is breathing so important?
Quote: Breathing oxygenates every cell of your body, from your brain to your vital organs. Without sufficient oxygen, your body becomes more susceptible to health problems. For example, in a study published in The Lancet, cardiac patients who took 12 to 14 shallow breaths per minute (six breaths per minute is considered optimal) were more likely to have low levels of blood oxygen, which “may impair skeletal muscle and metabolic function, and lead to muscle atrophy and exercise intolerance.”
In contrast, deep breathing raises levels of blood oxygen, promoting health in many ways — from stimulating the digestive process to improving fitness and mental performance.
All of us already know how to breathe properly – babies are known to have the most natural breathing in all our life stages. It’s because of all the stress, tension, external influences that cause our breathing to become incorrect.
Here’s a test to tell if you’re breathing correctly.
- Put your palms against your lower abdomen and blow out all the air.
- Now, take a big breath.
- What happens? Does/Do (a) your chest puff out, your shoulders rise and your stomach gets sucked in or (b) your chest, shoulders and stomach remain relatively still as air flow in deeply to the pit of your stomach?
If your answer is (b), you’re on the right track. If your answer is (a), you’re relying on your external body to breathe rather than using your diaphragm. Key reasons why we breathe this way include being in a constant state of tension (which causes light, shallow breathes), constantly “sucking” in our stomach to look like we have a tighter abdominal/smaller tummy, or possibly negative experiences from the past.
However, that’s a bad practice. Our abdominal area contains the most vital organs and it’s important to let it pulse. Tensing our stomach all the time like a perfect statue creates tension in our body instead. It is by practising the proper breathing techniques that we automatically gain the right posture at the same time.
This week, our task is to breathe deeply and fully, throughout every moment of the day. With every breath, you take, lower your diaphragm muscle and expand your abdomen. Breathe in deeply. Don’t use force – breathe naturally and with ease. Allow the fresh air to fill you from inside out. Visualise how you’re getting more power, vitality and goodness from the universe with every breath you take. Enjoy this week with love, peace and harmony. Let’s all live healthy and happier in life together.
Please Note that: If you don’t breathe properly, i.e always breathless, there is an underlying heart or chest problems. Or are you just unfit? please check with your doctor.