Breathing is a fundamental element of our health that we often overlook and take for granted. Our breath is our life force energy and our connection between mind and body. We can live for weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without air. Oxygen is the most important nutrient of all. Take a moment to notice your breath and feel the oxygen coming into your lungs. Exhale and release what is no longer serving you.
Like many people, you may be accustomed to breathing shallow breaths, often due to a feeling of overstimulation in the nervous system. The good news is you have the power to use your breath as a tool to calm your nervous system and empower yourself in the present moment. As you change your relationship to your breath, you change how you experience your life. Begin right now by making your breathingmore life affirming and complete.
As you start paying more attention to your breath, you will discover that simply by paying attention, your breathing will naturally begin to shift without effort. The more you can bring awareness to it, the more you can step back into using more of your lung capacity. Make sure your natural breath is through your nose rather than your mouth. The nose has a superior filtration system and it is also better at supplying the necessary oxygen to the brain and body. However, an occasional long exhale through the mouth is a great way to relieve tension and stress.
The breath is directly connected to the nervous system. Long exhales promote relaxation and inhales promote stimulation. I have found a direct correlation between the state of the breath and the state of anxiety for my clients. The ones who are the most anxious are constantly holding their breath and breathing shallow breaths. The ones who are the most relaxed take slow, calm breaths. It is amazing to see this connection. Notice this in yourself and those you come in contact with.
Relaxed breathing can also be helpful when trying to fall asleep. You can either practice long exhales through both nostrils, or long exhales only through the left nostril. The left nostril is linked to your parasympathetic nervous system and will help you relax, while the right nostril is linked to your sympathetic nervous system and offers a more stimulating effect.
Remember, conscious breathing does not need to always be done as a formal practice or on a meditation cushion. You can bring attention to your breath practically any time, such as while waiting in line, driving, or listening to someone speak. There are countless opportunities to breathe more fully each and every day.