Breathe In, Breathe Out

Our first and last signs of life are centered around breathing. Oxygen is the single most important chemical in the body and is utilized in almost every biological process in the cell. We breathe daily out of necessity, but did you know we can also control our breathing?

When we are able to control our breathing we are able to regulate our stress hormones, increase our lung capacity, and own our movements. We hold our breaths in times of increased stress and strain on the body. When we can breathe, it means our brains feel comfortable and safe and we proceed as such. This results in decreased strain during stretch, decreased pain, increased breath holding, increased endurance, movement fluidity in the joints and tissues, and so much more.

In today’s stressed out society, we find that most people are “stress breathers”, meaning they breathe by lifting their shoulders towards their ears and extending their upper backs to flare the rib cage open. This breathing type can lead to chronically tight neck and upper traps, chronic tension headaches, low back pain due to diaphragm tightness and position, and poor oxygen saturation affecting other systems. As well, when the brain feels as though the ratio between carbon dioxide and oxygen is not optimal, it will change breathing strategies to force more oxygen into the system. The body is very smart and the brain is very powerful in its quick responses to our internal chemistry.

Here are some quick tips to improve breathing:

  1. Nasal breathe only

  2. On inhalation allow your belly to relax and expand. On exhalation, contract your belly and force all the air out

  3. Set an hourly timer to stop and take 5 belly breaths

  4. Integrate breathing into morning and evening routines to prepare for the day

  5. Work belly breathing in different positions to “stretch” diaphragm

Breathing well will leave your body to manage the important tasks in your day like family, household, and work.

Breathe well my friends!