The Life of Breath
Oct 11, 2021
It's wild, isn't it? Breathing, the thing you were born to do throughout your entire existence, the movement which pretty much carries you through life, the foundation of everything about you, the one thing you are ridiculously efficient at, could be the one thing causing most of your problems. Yep, many of life’s issues stem from or dance with how we breathe.
Disease, inflammation, digestive disorders, anxiety issues, hormonal imbalances, sleep disorders, name something negative - they could all be a result of how we are breathing.
You are ridiculously efficient at how you breathe. You should be. You’ve likely been a breather your whole life. And somewhere in your life, through some traumatic event, some fear, or some misunderstanding, you likely altered your body’s natural design for breath and adopted a compensatory breath that embedded itself into your life.
Mouth breathing, chest breathing, shallow breathing, breath-holding, gasping, etc. These are all deviations away from our natural default way of breathing. The problem with these ways of breathing is that they send a clear message to the nervous system, “I’m in danger.”
This message, relayed breath after breath, day after day, year after year, takes a very deep toll on our bodies, our minds, and ultimately the quality of our lives. It keeps our bodies in “fight or flight” mode or survival mode. More importantly, it keeps our bodies out of “rest and digest” mode, or peace mode, or thrive mode. When the constant, habitual message is, “I’m not safe” the health, light, and vibrancy of our minds and bodies start to erode. We can become irritated, sickly, lethargic, anxious, sluggish, angry, and depressed. We are not designed to live in these states. They should be rare occurrences, temporary states at best.
Our breath, how we breathe, is the foundation of everything about us. There is not one function, system, cell, synapse, OR thought that is not affected by how you breathe. Your life is largely a product of your breath. And it is your breath that can restore your life and open the doors to the life you want to live.
We are designed to be nasal breathers. Mouths are for expressing, singing, talking, and eating. We are designed to allow air to fill our lungs, the bottom of our lungs, and the back of our lungs, not just the top of our lungs. Our diaphragm is made to invite air into our lungs and to usher air out of our lungs. It is meant to be the primary breathing muscle. Our intercostals, neck, and shoulder muscles are our accessory breathing muscles or emergency breathing muscles. They should be reserved for the times when the diaphragm needs help. They were never intended to be our primary breathing muscles - their message is loud and clear: “I’m in danger! I need help!”
I know it seems silly, but one of the best ways you can live your best life and thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is to return to your natural default way of breathing.
You can restore your breath and wash your body through with its health-restoring effects.
Here is a simple way to begin this process. Set aside ten minutes every day to return to your breath. You can do more, but at least do this. Then, get in a quiet place to focus on your breath. Lie down in the constructive rest position (on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor). This is a also great position to restore the psoas by the way… In this position, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Close your lips, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, breathe in and out through your nose. Feel what happens under your hands. When you inhale, invite air to move under the hand that is on your belly. Let that air also travel under the other hand. When you exhale, just let the air leave. Don’t force it. Let it run out until it wants to stop and your body naturally wants to inhale again.
There is so much more you can do. But this is a fantastic start. If you’re willing to dedicate time to your breath, nasal breathe, and become aware of how you breathe, it will change your life. Gradually, but dramatically. Just try this for thirty days. Discover for yourself how returning to your breath can improve every facet of your life.
You were made to thrive. You were made to feel good. Your breath is the key to that. It truly is the breath of life.