February 4, 2022
In my first meditation sessions, the instructor repeatedly told me to find stillness and reign in my breath. Meaning, chill the eff out, stop moving, and BREATHE INTENTIONALLY. I had never done breath work before. I always thought deep breathing was just a way parents helped kids get through a temper tantrum. Maybe you’re like me and don’t know the power of HOW we intake air has on our physical and mental health. Since that first meditation class, I regularly notice how shallow my breathing is throughout the day.
It took effort right? It’s not your normal way of sucking in oxygen. Why is that? I got some insight from Harvard Med, “For many of us, deep breathing seems unnatural. There are several reasons for this. For one, body image has a negative impact on respiration in our culture. A flat stomach is considered attractive, so women (and men) tend to hold in their stomach muscles. This interferes with deep breathing and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” seem normal, which increases tension and anxiety.”
Fascinating! Combine that with a fast paced culture, never-ending to-do list, and humans to manage, we’re lucky to be breathing at all.
Here is what happens in your body when you do diaphragmatic breathing (deep breathing):
Your lymphatic system is activated which detoxifies the body and boosts your immune system.
Endorphins, which are a natural pain reliever, are released lowering cortisol levels (your stress hormone).
Blood flow is increased lowering your heart rate and stabilizing blood pressure.
Just from taking a deep breath!! It’s remarkable!
I encourage you to breathe this intentionally at least once a day. I like doing my breath work (through meditation) at night. However, tune into your body throughout the day. If you notice chest tightness, take 5-10 seconds and activate your body’s built in stabilizer. You’re not being dramatic; You are creating the opportunity for your body to heal itself!