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Ever heard this phrase? And really, our bodies are already taking 25,000 breaths per day, without us even having to think about it, so why do we need to “just breathe?”
The air we breathe nourishes every part of our body. You can go days without water and food, but oxygen? You need that stuff every few minutes to survive. With our bodies naturally inhaling and exhaling, we are lucky we don’t have to be intentional about our breathing…but we should be.
Intentional breathing can improve your mental and physical health in a few quick minutes. And it is so simple. We just have to be more mindful of it.
Join me for a few breathing exercises you can do anytime and from anywhere.
Let’s breathe our way into wellness!
full transcript + more information
the below is transcribed from video, with the addition of a few edits/links
You’ve probably seen this phrase on bumper stickers, t-shirts, memes on the internet.
If you’re anything like me: super type A, a little more stressed out and anxiety-ridden majority of the then you’ve probably had someone tell it to you about a thousand times.
I want to talk today about “just breathing.”
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: you’re breathing as you’re reading or watching this.
Yes, you’re literally taking 25,000 breaths per day.
Our bodies are such incredible things that they can do that automatically and without us actually having to think about it. Breath is such an important part of our living bodies. The oxygen that’s in the air that we breathe in, literally nourishes every part of our body. But most of us spend a majority of our day not taking a lot of that good, fresh, clean air in. We spend most of our day just shallow breathing.
Breathing more intentionally and properly means that we’re taking in more oxygen, allowing that oxygen to get to all the cells in our body. Air just doesn’t come into our lungs: it comes into your cells through your circulation system. Every cell in your body inhales oxygen and then exhales carbon dioxide, a process known as respiration.
Breathing is so important because our cells constantly need a new supply of fresh oxygen so that they can produce energy. Without this vital oxygen, your cells can get damaged, die, and you might be able to even un-breathe your way into some diseases.
In addition, our bodies have an unconscious element that is taking care of all of our internal functions. A lot of those functions are controlled by hormones. And hormones, like your stress hormone, for example, directly correlated with that ‘fight or flight’ mentality can be activated more frequently because of a lack of oxygen. So lack of oxygen could create more stress in our bodies, which can create a whole litany of other long-term negative side effects.
Long term stress can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, all sorts of really “not good” stuff, so knowing how to breathe and employing how to breathe properly is super important.
So, let’s talk intentional breathing. When was the last time you actually thought about the process of your breath? Inhaling in through your nose or mouth, going down your throat into your lungs, circulates, then exhaling back out the same way. When was the last time you actually thought about that process?
There are some really huge benefits of becoming more intentional and mindful with your breath: it can reduce a lot of physical symptoms, prevent diseases, increase the body’s ability to fight aging, and reduce feelings of stress.
And becoming aware of your breath and really breathing can positively influence your mental and emotional wellbeing. It can increase your mental clarity, it can increase your energy and just make you feel a lot better.
So what do I mean when I talk about “really breathing?”
I want to show you several ways that you can become more mindful and intentional with your breath. You can do these from anywhere, you can do them as many times as a day as you would like and I recommend you try to incorporate them into your daily practice at least a few times a day. Over time, I hope that you become more mindful and intentional with your breath, without really having to even think about it.
The first exercise is mindful breathing. Simply becoming more mindful of your breath.
Be more aware of the oxygen being inhaled through your nose, it going down your throat and into your chest, then into your lungs, maybe you let your belly expand a little with that breath, and as you exhale, all that carbon dioxide from your cells comes back up through your mouth.
Let’s try a few mindful breathes together now. All you need to do is pay attention to how your body is breathing. (See video for three big breaths all together).
It is incredible that your body is able to do all of that on its own, isn’t it? And it does it 25,000 times a day naturally, without you even having to think about it.
The second exercise I wanted to do with you for resetting your breath is called box breathing, or four square breathing. This is a really simple breathing technique. It helps you become more intentional and mindful with your breathe.
What we are going to do is inhale in through the nose for a count of 4. We are then going to hold all that oxygen in your body for another count of 4. Then we are going to exhale through the mouth for the same count of 4. And hold that exhalation for another count of 4. Let’s try three breathes together. (See video for three big breaths all together).
Notice how you feel? Any different? Any lighter? Any more energized? Practice that a few times a day, and notice the difference in makes in how you feel.
The next exercise is called nose breathing. It is a simple technique. You can do it from anywhere, and again, I recommend doing it several times a day.
The concept is closing your nostrils, one at a time, and focusing on breathing in and out through just one nostril at a time. The whole key with this is to ensure you’re still taking big deep breaths, focusing on how your breath is coming in and being exhaled, and paying attention to which nostril your breath is going in through – becoming more mindful and intentional with how you’re breathing.
We are going to use one hand to do this breathing technique. You are going to use primarily your thumb, forefinger, middle finger, and ring finger of this one hand.
Place your thumb close to your right nostril, your fore and middle fingers on the space between your eyebrows, and your ring finger close to your left nostril, and breath all the way out as far as you can using both nostrils.
Now close your right nostril and breath in through your left nostril, counting from 1 to 4. Now open your right nostril and at the same time, close your left nostril and breath out through your right nostril to the count of 8, and then breath in through the same right nostril to a count of 4.
Then close your right nostril, open your left nostril, and breathe out to the count of 8, then in through the same (left nostril to the count of 4. Then cover your left nostril and open your right, breathing out to the count of 8, then in to the count of 4, again uncovering the left while covering the right, and returning to breathing out of the left nostril to the count of 8. This is two complete cycles. Repeat this exercise 8 more times for a total of 10 cycles. (See video for demonstration).
The whole purpose behind mindful breathing is finding something that is easy to do, that you can do from anywhere, and that you can practice throughout the day, so that you can become more intentional about really breathing (taking in fresh clean oxygen, and releasing carbon dioxide).
other breathing exercises
wim hof breathing technique
4-7-8 breathing technique
progressive muscle relaxation breathing
skull shining breathing
Find the breath exercises that work best for you, and I would love to hear more from all of you about which breath exercise you like best!