Breathing. You’ve been breathing since you were born. It’s something that you do approximately 20,000 times a day. 20,000 times! It is the most automatic thing we do. And the moment we stop doing it, we’re in serious trouble.

Yet when was the last time you considered breathing and thought about how you did it?

Maybe you never really have – unless you’ve struggled for a breath or two! However most people use only 20% of their lung capacity, taking short, shallow breaths. This type of breathing is thoracic, or chest breathing. Which doesn’t lead to good oxygen exchange and can actually trigger the stress response in your body.

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Are you ready to relax? Then lengthen that spine, relax those shoulders and aim to belly breathe.

How you breathe can often be a function of how you sit or stand. If you slump at a desk all day, or hunch over as you move your body, there’s no way that you can breathe deeply.

Take a moment and lengthen your spine. Imagine someone is pulling you up from the crown of your head. Relax your shoulders and fully exhale, pushing everything out, contracting your belly button toward your spine.

Allow the inhale to happen naturally, expanding your rib cage and perhaps your belly as you do so (welcome to belly breathing). Practice this several times a day.

belly breathing_2

Five benefits of belly breathing:

1 Releases toxins. How you breathe is a very good indicator of your well-being. 70% of the body’s toxins can actually be released by taking the time to fully exhale. If you hold those toxins in, while shallow breathing, other bodily systems have to kick in and work overtime. This is an inefficient use of energy which can lead to illness.

Improves your appearance. Deep breathing improves your circulation. Wrinkles are less visible with improved circulation. Breathing can help create beautiful skin, no matter your age!

3 – Releases tension and relieves pain. You may not realize the extent of its connection to how you think, feel and experience life. For example, what happens to your breathing when you anticipate pain? Likely, you hold your breath. Yet studies show that breathing into pain helps to ease it. Breathe deep.

4 – Assists in weight loss. Allowing extra oxygen in the body helps to burn excess fat more efficiently. When we are stressed and shallow breathe, the body tends to burn glycogen instead of fat. Deep breathing triggers the relaxation response which encourages the body to burn fat instead.

5 A deep breath buys you time. Pause if you will. Before you yell at your child, spouse, the driver that just cut you off, the sales clerk that simply doesn’t care. Exhale.

When you’re stuck in traffic. When the bathroom scales don’t read the numbers you want. When you’re late for that all important meeting. When you’re put on hold, again. When you’re tired and you simply can’t go one more step……

Breathe. A deep breath is the bridge between the body and the mind and can bring you back to the present moment.

“Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”  ~ Mary Oliver

Make deep breathing a practice today!!

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