My life and my view of the world changed when I started to connect with my breathing. That may sound funny but I never thought about how much I held my breath or if it was deep in my diaphragm or way up in my chest. In fact, the only reference I ever had to breathing was what my mom taught me when we would go through the Harbor Tunnel in Baltimore; “ Hold your breath, close your eyes and your wishes will come true? Hmmmm? Hold my breath and my wishes will come true?
Years later I became aware, while consulting with people, how much they held their breath, so I started asking clients questions like these:
The reason I still ask these questions is because most people, unfortunately, do not understand how important it is to be aware of their breathing pattern and how that impacts their health, mood, communications, energy and productivity. Here’s why.
Theaverage person reaches peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid 20's. Then they begin to lose respiratory capacity: between 9 and 25% for every decade of life! So, unless you are doing something to maintain or improve your breathing capacity, it will decline, and with it, your general health, and life expectancy. Now here’s something most of us never learned in science class. The respiratory system should be responsible for eliminating 70% of your metabolic waste. The remainder should be eliminated through defecation 3%, urination 8%, and perspiration 19%. So sweat, cleanse, but if you really want to rid yourself of toxins, breathe deeply and take conscious breaths often.
Most of us, unless we are taught and reminded, have unhealthy breathing habits. We tend to hold our breath or breathe high in the chest or in a shallow, irregular manner. These patterns have been unconsciously adopted, accidentally formed, or emotionally impressed. Certain "typical" breathing patterns actually trigger physiological and psychological stress and anxiety reactions as well. Dr. Andrew Weil says, “ Improper breathing is the cause of most illnesses today”
When you breathe in your upper chest you activate your Sympathetic Nervous System or fight or flight response, you speed up your heart rate, slow your digestion and stress organs.
When you breathe in your lower chest towards your abdomen, you activate your Parasympathetic Nervous System and relax your heart rate, and help your digestion, and organs.
Keep that in mind while you breathe more slowly and deeper, and let your belly fill up like a beach ball on the inhale, then let it go on the exhale. Enjoy the many benefits of aware, healthy breathing and watch your whole life change for the better!
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