Previously learned how to remove physical distractions from your environment. How to sit in such a way that the body is held in a neutral and comfortable position. Now we’ll learn the next step which is to calm the nervous system through breathing.
Sounds funny and you think we would know how to do it properly, but apart from opera singers, most of us go through life breathing incorrectly.
We breathe shallowly from the chest. Our ribs don’t move very much, so even our strong chest muscles can’t really move the space much.
This doesn’t allow oxygen to go deep down in the lungs where it can be more easily absorbed. For some reason we forgot how to breathe properly.
Breathing should be done from the diaphragm. We have a strong muscle that sits under the lungs and can move up and down really far. It can push and pull on the lungs powerfully and move a lot of air as it does so. This is called belly breathing.
When you breathe IN, your belly should move outwards as if trying to make yourself look fat. When you breathe OUT, your belly should move in towards your spine, like you’re trying to show off your 6-pack for the beach.
When you breathe from the belly, your body goes into “thrive” mode not “survive” mode. There’s no danger, no sabre tooth tiger about to pounce.
Belly breathing naturally calms the nervous system and should be the default, normal way to breathe.
Try doing it periodically throughout the day if you really want to master the technique.
Because belly breathing uses more of the lung capacity, it allows oxygen to get into the blood more efficiently.
More oxygen in = more carbon dioxide and other toxins out.
I’m not sure why we somehow forgot how to breathe properly. Newborn babies do it right. Just watch a newborn sleeping and you see their little tummy rising and falling.
Pregnant mothers are taught how to use breathing techniques to focus the mind and reduce pain.
All animals do it. Even domesticated ones. Look at your cat or dog when they’re laying down sleeping. Their stomachs do all the moving. The chest barely moves.
Just us humans seem to have forgotten the simple magic.
Moving that large diaphragm muscle also massages all the organs below your lungs. This has the effect of moving your body fluids so they don’t pool and stagnate.
Look at all the health problems caused by blockages and stagnation. All the intestinal and digestive problems. Now you can help your digestive tract by massaging your meals in your intestines simply by breathing.
There is also a spiritual significance to breathing. Breathing draws in energy from the universe. This energy is called prana.
Breathing is a whole subject unto itself. It’s called pranayama in yoga circles and is the science of using the breath to move energy throughout the body.
There are some pretty advanced breathing techniques that have you breathing through this nostril for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 8, breathe out while looking left and holding your right foot by your nose etc., but we’re going to keep it very simple.
Doesn’t matter if you believe in the spiritual, pranic energy aspect or not, breathing properly and trying to incorporate it into every day life has huge health benefits.
Keep breathing my friends.