Breathing is a vital part of well-being. Even more important than food and water, it is air that is the primary source of energy for the human body.
WHY IT MATTERS
Breathing is not binary. In other words, breathing = a “good” thing because it means you’re alive. And not breathing = “not good” because you are either dead or unconscious. But it’s not just whether you’re breathing or not; how you breathe affects your body’s ability to use the air it takes in from your environment.
Breathing is directly correlated to your emotional and physical well-being, and how you breathe can instantly impact your nervous system and, therefore, all parts of your body.
Given that we take 20,000 – 25,000 breaths per day, if you’re doing that in a dysfunctional way it’s going to affect your health. Let’s turn every one of those breaths into an opportunity to improve your health, every day!
The Three Steps
STEP 1: BREATHE IN THROUGH YOUR NOSE
Breathing through your nose filters, warms, and humidifies the air you breathe, making it easier for your lungs and muscles to use oxygen. Nasal breathing eliminates brain fog, boosts energy, and has been proven to boost learning and memory. Your nose is also the first line of defense against allergens and pathogens.
Try one of the following to start breathing through your nose more often:
Breathe only through your nose for the first hour of each day. Lower your blood pressure and start the day with a boost of energy by focusing on breathing only through your nose for the first hour of each morning.
Humming. Humming forces us to breathe through our nose. By humming for a couple of minutes the nitric oxide that gets released from our sinus cavities has been shown to increase by 15-fold! Nitric oxide lowers stress, improves blood flow, and even has instant beneficial effects on our immune system.
STEP 2: ACTIVATE YOUR DIAPHRAGM BY EXPANDING YOUR ENTIRE RIBCAGE
It should feel like your ribcage is an umbrella opening up, expanding on all sides when you inhale.
STEP 3: MAKE IT CONTINUOUS FROM BREATH TO BREATH
Imagine the waves of an ocean smoothly coming onto a beach, then receding, then pushing onto the beach again, then receding. This is the sort of rhythm you are trying to create.
That’s it. Practice these three steps every day and be prepared to feel the difference in your well-being that proper breathing can instantly initiate!
For me, the perfect breath is this: inhale for about 5.5 seconds, then exhale for 5.5 seconds. That’s 5.5 breaths a minute for a total of about 5.5 liters of air. You can practice this perfect breathing for a few minutes, or a few hours. When we breath like this… circulation in the brain and body will increase while the burden on the heart decreases.
– James Nestor, Breath: the new science of a lost art