Exploring Your Breath

 

 

Right at this moment, turn your attention to your breathing.

 

What do you notice? Are you breathing freely? Does it feel restricted?

 

Do you hold your breath? Is your breath shallow and rapid?

 

Where do you notice the breathing in the body?

 

Do you notice it in the chest? The shoulders? Is the belly moving?

 

 

We interfere with our natural breathing

 

We are sometimes told “to take a deep breath”. But the act of “taking” interferes with our natural breathing rhythm. Instead we can restart our breathing cycle on an exhalation. Once you have exhaled fully, the new breath arrives on its own, without effort or force.

 

What body parts are involved?

 

The diaphragm the most essential breathing muscle. It is located between your chest and abdomen and moves downward on inhalation as our lungs fill with air. This pushes the organs down and you see the belly moving outwards. On exhalation it moves back up and gets to its dome-shape.

 

The body is three-dimensional as is the movement of the breath.

 

The ribs play an important role in breathing as well. They are wonderfully mobile bones, having joints at one end (attached to the spine) and cartilage on the other (attached to the breast bone). When we inhale the ribs move up and out, when we exhale they move back down and in. We are aiming for a full mobility of the rib movement! The muscles in between the ribs (intercostal muscles) are involved in the breathing process; we want them free – not tensed!

 

The torso changes shape with every breath.

 

If the body is free and open, breathing occurs naturally. You may have seen the expansion of the rib cage in breathing in babies (or in pets). We are born with that coordination, however, over a life time have developed habitual tensions that restrict natural breathing. We unconsciously interfere with our natural rhythm of breathing.

 

Our breathing is interconnected with how we use our body and how we move.

 

Breathing patterns reflect how we feel and what we think. If we are anxious, our breathing gets shorter. Especially under stress, breathing becomes shallow and more rapid and we have a tendency to hold our breath. Excessive tension in the body makes it difficult to breathe deeply and fully.

 

Poor breathing may lead to poor health.

 

When the breath is held or restricted, the ribcage is fixed and the back is tight. The chest and shoulders may lift to compensate for immobile ribs. Poor breathing often goes with a fixed jaw, clenched teeth and a rigid neck. It compromises the balance in our body and may be a contributing factor to stress and anxiety levels, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, headaches, chronic pain, tiredness or heart disease.

 

 

Breathe!

 

Bring your attention to your body and sit upright on your chair. Place your feet flat on the floor and release the weight of your legs and feet into the floor. Notice your sit bones and let the weight of your body release through the sit bones into the chair.

 

Think up along the spine and let your head balance on your spine.

Notice the space behind you. Allow your back to be long and wide.

 

Notice your breathing as you inhale and exhale through your nose.

 

Be aware of your ribcage and the abdomen expanding as you inhale and returning to its shape as you exhale.

 

As you inhale, just simply be aware that you are inhaling. As you exhale, just simply be aware that you are exhaling.

 

Now allow a very full and easy exhale the next time. There might be a little pause after the exhale.

 

Then you may notice a full inhale. It occurs naturally. It is spontaneous and fresh!

 

Bring attention to your breathing cycle in this way for a moment. Notice how your breathing deepens.

 

 

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