How To Incorporate a Breathing Practice into Your Daily Life
Aug 16, 2020
And now, A guide to establishing a breathing practice by Original Strength Instructors, Sarah Young and Mike Moran...
We all breathe.
We all could breathe a bit better.
And that’s important because how we breathe affects how we move through life. Breath is the foundation of movement. Breath is life.
And the number one thing we can all do to make our breathing better is to breathe more with our diaphragms. After all, the diaphragm muscle is designed to help us breathe optimally. So the more we can access it, connect with it, the better our breathing will get.
All it takes is a willingness to relax and explore. That and a commitment to yourself to set aside time to do it. Building any practice requires such dedication. A breathing practice is simply an investment of time that’s an investment in you. One that pays itself back in improved health dividends. And you are more than worthy of that investment.
So how does a person develop a daily breathing practice?
The first step is to make it a part of your daily schedule. Yes, put yourself on your own schedule. Don’t let anything else get in the way. Start with two times a day. Pick a time in the morning and then another in the evening preferably before bed. All you need is about 5 to 10 minutes per session.
Now that you’ve scheduled time for your breathing practice let’s talk about what those breathing sessions might look like. As mentioned earlier, connecting to your diaphragm is the foundation of the practice. So how do you make the connection?
While each person is unique in how they find and reconnect with their diaphragm, there are usually 1 to 3 different positions in which most people are able to make the connection. One is breathing while lying on one’s back and gently holding one’s knees towards one’s chest. This position often works.
If a person doesn’t find their diaphragm in this position then having them breathe while lying on their back with feet on the floor and knees bent often does the trick. And if the diaphragm still remains elusive a person can lie on their belly with one hand on top of the other hand and their forehead gently resting on their hands. This position is often referred to as the crocodile breathing position.
And oh yea, breathing in and out through your nose with the tip of your tongue resting on the roof of your mouth really aids in diaphragmatic connection. This tongue placement also aids in opening up your airway.
In your breathing practice sessions, you can explore these breathing positions. Simply inhale softly, easy, and quietly through your nose. Then exhale through your nose softly, easily, and quietly. And while you breathe in and out remember to gently place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Bring your full attention and awareness to the moment. Feel your breath. Simply notice how it feels to breathe.
Try to make your exhale a bit longer than your inhale. For example, you can breathe in for a count of 3 and exhale for a count of 5. Or you can inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for a count of 8. The longer exhale allows for your diaphragm to relax more fully which it greatly appreciates.
It may be helpful to imagine your lungs as two big balloons. On the inhale imagine that you're blowing up those balloons from the bottom to the top. Feel how your ribs are nudged to move up and out as your diaphragm flattens and moves down on the inhale. On the exhale feel how the air leaves your lung balloons and your ribs move back to their starting position and as your diaphragm domes back up.
And please remember, feeling and sensing breathing tends to be more powerful than trying to think breathing. Also, please make your breathing practice a judgment-free zone. Just breathe and be with your breath.
That’s it. Just two sessions of 5 to 10 minutes each of mindful breathing is solid groundwork to begin a breathing practice.
And if you want to dive in a bit deeper with your breathing practice, well then, here are some more ideas...
During the day, play with having some check-ins with your diaphragm and your breathing. This will strengthen your practice a bit more. Maybe set a timer that goes off every hour to remind you to breathe.
If you drive a lot, maybe use that as your reminder to breathe. When you get in the driver’s seat take some slow and deep mindful breaths in and out before you even take the car out of park.
And if you have a daily flurry of phone calls or texts or emails, use that as a reminder to breathe. Reconnect with your diaphragm and breathing before you open up your emails, look at your texts, or listen to your voicemails. After a couple of mindful breaths simply return to the task at hand.
Breathing is just like strength training or playing music in that it is a process and a skill. It’s not a one and done kind of thing. The more you do it, with intention and awareness, the better you’ll get at it. And with better breathing, well, everything gets better!!
Enjoy your practice!