Mantra: [man-truh], a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation.”
Our breath is key to survival. Through our breath, our body takes in oxygen and transports it to our lungs. With help from our circulatory system, our blood flows in the proper pattern, picking up this oxygen from our lungs, transporting it to our heart, then releasing it out through our entire body by means of blood vessels. Without this cycle, we would not be.
So, breathing is key to life. But how often is it that we think about it? Luckily, we don’t have to think about every single breath we take because our autonomic nervous system does that for us. But if we did pay more attention to it, could it benefit us? Absolutely.
Becoming aware of your breath can do wonders for you. It can be an amazing tool for you to use during exercise, yoga, or even sitting at your desk. In yoga, although there are many different breathing techniques, the end goal is the same: to bring a heightened sense of awareness and control over your physiology and psychology. Personally, this is where I find my peace of mind as I’m able to spend at least an hour, tuning into my own body and turning off everything else that may be going on around me.
During strenous exercise, breathing is extremely important as well. We know that we are supposed to be breathing during the point of exertion during lifts etc., but it goes beyond that. Breathing deeply provides stability to your core and entire trunk for that matter. The more these muscles are supported and strengthened, greater the chances you may be able to have less back pain, better posture, etc.
So, how do you breathe correctly?
Many people make the mistake of breathing solely from their chest, using only a fraction of their lungs. If you are doing this, typically you will see a significant rise in your shoulders. When this happens, we’re actually tensing up all of those muscles around our neck and shoulders. At all costs, avoid breathing in this manner…we’re trying to RELAX, remember? By breathing deeper, we are expanding the capacity of our lungs, bringing more oxygen supply to the body for function. So, focus on breathing deeply through your abdomen, inhaling from the nose. This is also known as diaphragmatic breathing. Doing this, you should actually see & feel your ribcage expand. As you exhale, breathe out from either your mouth or nose, and be aware of the contraction that should be occuring through your midsection. Here, you should actually see your ribcage and core tighten/contract.
Deep breathing can strengthen the lungs & heart, detoxify and release unneeded toxins in our body, relax the mind/body, & help release tension. Take a few minutes or an hour out of your day and focus in on your breathing. Make sure you are someplace quiet, with little distractions. As you breathe in, you can think to yourself, breathe and as you exhale think, deeply. This will help you gain a better focus. Pay attention to your body & how you feel. This is not the time to think about a project at work or what you’re going to prepare for dinner. If you truly tune into your body & focus on your breath, I promise you, you will feel relaxed, refreshed & thankful for the few minutes of peace of mind that you set aside for yourself.