The Power of the Breath: How to Breathe Properly

by Chloe' Flowers

 

My daily ritual starts with thinking about the things that bring me gratitude. Breathing always finds its way to the top of my list. I think it’s easy for us to forget how much of a privilege it is to breathe because we do it all the time. From the moment we were born, that is all we know. To breathe is to be alive. When practicing yoga and meditation, so much of the process has to do with breathing, also known as pranayama. Learning how to breathe properly can lead you to a clearer mind, body, and soul. I think it says a lot that an entire physical practice, such as yoga is surrounded by the breath. The breath supports us in our existence, with the inhale and exhale. Today, pretty birds, I will teach you about the true power of proper respiration.

I learned about the power of the breath while studying to become a yoga instructor. I learned that many of us are not breathing properly and getting the most out of the breathing process. I, myself was breathing incorrectly. Much of our life is lived at a rushed pace these days. We eat faster than we should, we think and process faster than we should, all because we live in faster times. Information and convenience are at our fingertips, and this all affects our breath. If you notice that you’re sighing a lot when stressed, this is your body’s way of getting more oxygen. When I began to study breathing, I realized how much I was holding my breath and the ways it affected me. Your breathing pattern and pace matters, and affects your quality of life. Incorrect ways of breathing consist of holding your breath, chest breathing, and over-breathing. Proper breathing alleviates stress, improves sleep, as well as prevent illnesses. 

Your heart, muscles, and brain are all dependent on your breath. Without knowing how to breathe properly, your organs have to work harder to maintain energy for your body. Without the proper breath, your entire respiratory system is being compromised. Shallow breathing is the most common breathing issue. According to HeadSpace, “When we breathe with our chests, we use the muscles in our shoulders, necks, and chests to expand our lungs, which can result in chest and neck pains and increased risk of injury.”

 

Learning How to Breathe Properly

Fortunately, learning how to breathe is really easy. The first thing you need to do is study your breath and find out what type of breather you are. Are you holding your breath without realizing it? Are you a really anxious person and having short, abrupt breaths? Are you breathing with your chest instead of your diaphragm? 

Next, I suggest taking a yoga or meditation class to really experience how others value the breath so you can adopt the same sentiment. Discovering the gift of the breath is prevalent in these spaces. Yoga and meditation instructors generally are extremely intentional about breathing and it’s benefits. Being in this space will remind you constantly to breathe. You will take some of your deepest and most fulfilling breaths in either one of these classes. 

Train yourself to inhale and exhale through the nose. This may be challenging for you at first but will become more natural over time. Breathe with your belly. When you inhale, your belly should visibly expand. To practice belly breathing, lay on the floor with your head propped on a pillow and place your hand over your stomach. Inhale and feel your belly expand, exhale and feel your belly retract and relax. Do this over and over again until you feel lighter and more balanced. 

Develop a natural rhythm when breathing, to make oxygen flow easier to your organs. For the most part, you should be breathing with your mouth closed and your tongue gently pressed against the roof of your mouth. My personal practice is incorporating deep breathing and meditation into everyday life. There are many apps, YouTube videos, and books that discuss the art of breathing. Check-in on your breathing throughout the day and stay consistent with your new practice. Once you incorporate these things into your life, you will notice the physical and spiritual shift. Breathing is so special and should be treated with the highest attention and regard. The best way to give back to yourself is to start with the gift you receive over and over, the breath. 

I’ve heard someone say that if you want to practice proper breathing, watch the way a newborn breathes. They breathe so full and gracefully with their tiny bellies. Before life conditions them to rush, they take full advantage of the breath. They take in all of the oxygen they need, without even thinking about it. Proper breathing is also said by Headspace to “improve your cognitive functions”. It may seem strange to learn how to do something that comes naturally to you. This is a simple change that can have a huge impact on your life, pretty birds. I take ten minutes each day to deep breathe and ensure that I am balanced by my breath at the beginning of each day. What practice will you incorporate into your day to improve your breathing?

 

Image By :@realfunwow

 

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