Have you ever felt like all you wanted to do was enjoy a full breath of air, but you couldn’t breathe deeply enough?
If your answer is yes, then you’re not alone. Most of us are only familiar with breathing into the top of the chest. We make incomplete use of the diaphragm and therefore don’t allow the entire torso to naturally expand on an inhale and relax on an exhale.
This habit and its resulting shortage of breath can lead to:
• Lack of attention
• Difficulty resting
• High blood pressure
• Chronic body stiffness
• Bad posture
So how do we find that deep breath?
Step 1: Scan your entire body for any tension that you are holding. We often hold tension in our bodies without knowing it. By simply bringing your awareness to those places of tension, you start bringing clarity to the root of your physical or mental discomfort.
Common places of tension include:
• The jaw
• Back of the eyes
• Neck & Shoulders
• Wrists & forearms
With every inhale, expand your belly so that the naval and sternum lift away from each other and the heart rises. On your exhales, empty your lungs as much as you comfortably can by contracting your naval back toward your spine and then slightly up.
Breathing in this way naturally lifts the top third of the body, expands the middle third of the body, and pushes down the bottom third of the body. It is important to note that these effects are not something you are doing; they are a result of a proper breathing technique.
Once you are acquainted with your breathing technique, start to observe the way air is traveling through the nose, throat and lungs. Notice any hesitation in the breath as it travels through these three regions of the body, and do your best to minimize this hesitation by keeping an even and smooth inhale and exhale. It can help to count the length of your inhales and exhales. For example: If you inhale for 4 seconds you want to exhale for four seconds. This 1:1 ratio is called sama vritti.
Enjoy! No, REALLY. I’m not giving you a Food Network kind of good-bye here “Until Next Time, enjoy.”
Breathing will be effortless and transformative if you follow the instructions above and adopt this method as your normal way to breathe. In just the same way that the intelligence of the skeletal system allows us to sit, stand, walk, and lay down comfortably under the force of gravity, the intelligence of the respiratory system allows us to relax the body, have good posture, and be mentally clear.
When the body is working properly, it is not something you have to “do”. You don’t ever “try to skeleton your system”, but when we have misalignment or skeletal injury, we have to take specific precautions to heal ourselves.
Difficulty in breathing can be approached in the same way, except that breathing properly is the method and the solution. All it takes is a little bit of mindful practice and watchfulness to experience the healing benefits of the breath.