When we were born, we knew how to breathe properly. At the time of the very first breath, we knew what to do.
We may have been frightened, stressed or shocked. We might have panicked and our automated reaction was to breathe quickly to our chests. Over time this became our new habit. When I look around a yoga class, I see most people are shallow breathing. But if we do this for a long period of time, we begin to think this is normal.
As you sit at your computer now, notice what your breath is doing. Notice what your shoulders do and how your stomach is feeling. Now sit up straight, roll your shoulders back and down. Release any tension in your stomach. Check out with your own breath. Are you breathing deeply into your stomach? This new habit will take effort to maintain at first. Keep checking in with your breath throughout the day and finally any tightness in your stomach will decrease.
Shallow breathing means that our organs do not receive the same amount of oxygen as they do during deep breathing. Your intestines are filled with fresh oxygen. If you lay the alveoli out flat (the air sacks in your lungs), they would be the size of a 1 bedroom flat which is about 450 square feet. Imagine how much more efficient and healthy our bodies would be if we breathed properly!
During shallow breathing, your sympathetic nervous system goes into a state of anxiety. This informs your body that you are stressed and releases the associated stress hormones.
Imagine the difference to our health, vitality and energy if we were to breathe deeply everyday. Imagine the positive impact on our performance. Exercising helps your body to perform at its best. It relieves tension, stress and fear. I find that when my breathing is fast and shallow, then my mind is over active. When I consciously control my breathing and aim for deep inhales and long exhales, my mind becomes more calm and I’m less stressed.
Check how you’re breathing now.