Fitting in Health: Breathing 101

Inhale... Exhale... A simple two-step process that even I am guilty of forgetting. Inhale through the nose and feel the fresh oxygen race through your insides, and exhale out the old air. We have to be able to breathe to live, and yet we forget how to do it or how to do it properly. In this sense, we are disconnected from our own bodies. We take breathing for granted.

Every living thing does it, but us humans are the only kind that forgets. Let me take a breath and back up. The average person takes about 23,000 breaths a day. That isn't just a wide spectrum of guesstimates, that's the "average" person, not the sedentary person or active person. To remember to breathe sounds simple, but many people do not allow themselves to do so properly.

Breathing properly? What does that even mean? 

Breathe deeply, diaphragmatically, down to your abdomen (your stomach). Notice how often you just breathe down to your heart or even just into your throat? This is called "chest breathing." What about the rest of the body? Inhaling feeds the body what it needs the most: oxygen. Exhaling removes the old air, the toxic carbon dioxide. Breathing relaxes the mind. Breathing relieves stress. Breathing properly can rid yourself of headaches.

Breathe to be present. Breathe to connect with your body. Breathe while you exercise. Check in with your breath when you get nervous and notice how it becomes shallow. When you are not consciously aware of how you feel about something, your breathing pattern will let you know.

The results of "multitasking" caused by emails, texts, phone, tweets, and facebook, has revved up our brain so much that breathing is pushed aside. We wait to exhale because we don't have time for it now. This reality has caused so much sickness and dis-ease, which is never cured, and the most obvious cure that is never found is just under the nose.

What happens when you get stressed? Or nervous? Both are part of the well-known "fight or flight" animalistic defense mechanism. Do you hold in your breath? Ever notice that when you are about to make a big decision or are in the middle of a very important situation that you can't breathe well? And then you take that classic big exhale when it's all over, "I gotta catch my breath." Other people, like myself, would have to yawn a bunch of times to equalize the air flow. Breathe through the stress and the stress will dissipate. Stress is caused by thoughts that lead to emotions, which create more stress and so goes that spiral. Breathing through it all, and slowing down the heart, creates calm and cognitive thought.

As a personal trainer, I have to remind my clients to breathe. Always remember to inhale with gravity, and exhale on the exertion (inhale as you go down in a pushup or squat, exhale as you push or pull the weight, etc). The nostrils filter the incoming atmospheric air and cool it down, the mouth does not. When you do exercise, it's best to inhale through the nose and let it all out of the mouth. When you are doing a cardio or aerobic routine like running or using an elliptical machine, it's best to not rely on those two small holes. Supply your body with more oxygen by using the mouth as well. While doing yoga or Pilates, the preferred method is in and out of the nose, not only to relax the jaw, but also because of the nostril purifications. Ever notice that when you or someone else works out the face gets bright red? That means exhales are not happening. Most people hold in their breath, and usually either pass out or tire easily. Follow the breathing method above and breath with the body, and more the body with the breath.

Here are ten more tips. Take a deep inhale, exhale, and calmly read:

  1. This may seem obvious, but smoking is not good for breathing.
  2. Breathe between bites. Slow down your chewing.
  3. While on public transportation, give yourself that moment to watch your breath.
  4. Before you stress out about something, breathe and "let the butter melt."
  5. Have a headache? Take slow breaths. Your brain might be oxygen deficient. (Drinking water helps as well.)
  6. "Stop and smell the flowers." Why? To give yourself the chance to breathe and appreciate not only the beauty of your life, but life around you.
  7. Love to schedule? Put "remember to breathe" in your iCal or Google Calendar on a daily repeat.
  8. Do you know what improves longevity in sex? Breathing.
  9. Yogic breathing techniques are a great alternative to Lamaze breathing.
  10. Try meditation. Does that word scare you? Close your eyes and breathe for a few moments and then consider it.

Essentially, breathing heals. Inhale. Exhale. Enjoy living, healthy. If you would like to add your thoughts, please feel free to comment below! And don't forget to share the health!

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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