The average person breathes 25,900 times per day. If you are breathing wrong, it can have quite a big effect on your overall physiology and psychology which will affect the posture.

Posture is a direct expression of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and spirit. How we think, feel and present ourselves is a direct reflection of our posture. If we are happy and confident, we’re normally standing upright, shoulders back and smiling.

If we are sad/depressed/stressed or simply energy deprived, we are tense, have our head down, shoulders rounded and present a negative attitude.  When we breathe properly we create an electrical charge within the body that creates energy and that energy can change your feelings, thoughts and attitude in one fell swoop, all the while correcting your posture by releasing muscular tension or neurological holding patterns.

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Physiology: The Mechanics of Breathing

We can last a few days without water and weeks without food, but oxygen is most important nutrient for human physiology. 3 minutes without oxygen, we are close to dead and 5 minutes without oxygen, we are unrecoverable generally speaking. It is also the most important pumping mechanism.

As we breathe in, the diaphragm expands down, compressing the organs helping push fluids and waste out of those organs. Then, when we exhale, the diaphragm retracts up and lets the organs relax, so arterial blood can flow in and bring nutrients and energy to those organs again.

The first thing most people do when breathing, is breathe first through the chest and neck. There is a bundle of nerves that feed into the peripheral nervous system, through the neck, that have a small space and when we chest breathe we tend to get tense and crowd the nerves, which causes sweaty hands, headaches, digestive issues among other problems that seem trivial.

When we breathe deeply this space is widened and allows for better functioning all round.

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There are other nerve bundles or vortexes that are associated with different functions of the body, whether it be bodily functions, thoughts, feelings or attitudes. Breathing shallow depresses one of these vortexes, the solar plexus, which lies just under the rib cage.

This is a bundle of nerves that is associated with power, action, self-esteem, self-efficacy and overall feeling of confidence in your ability. When we chest breathe, we are limiting the energy or life force that we are capable of bringing into our bodies by not breathing properly. This perpetuates the sad/depressed/stressed/anxious feeling and so the story goes.

So how do we breathe properly?

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We will begin by putting one hand on the belly and one hand on the chest. Put your tongue to the top of your palate and breathe in through you nose. Breathing through your nose stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system or rebuilding side of our nervous system that aids digestion, elimination and alleviates stress.  (When we are stressed we are in “defense mode” which make us tense up).

The idea is to expand the belly for the first 2/3 of the breath and for the final 1/3 we expand the lunges. (The hands on the belly and chest will help you determine which one expands first. It should be the belly as previously stated). This helps open up the rib cage, which massages the adrenal glands, which helps decrease stress, increases energy and promotes growth.

When we belly breathe like this, we want to make sure we don’t use any accessory muscles (for example our traps i.e. Shrugging motion).When we use our traps to assist our breathing, we get really tense in the upper back and create neurotic holding patterns or muscular tension that are really hard to break.

Moreover, when we use the traps, the shoulders tend to roll forward and we end up with overactive pectorals which gives us that rounded upper back.

When we round our upper back, the low back compensates by flexing, (the butt tucks under) or extending (the hips tilt forward), which can create all sorts of issues. It can cause weak erectors, weak hip flexors which creates overactive glutes and over active abs or overactive hip flexors and erectors and weak abs and glutes respectively. Either way this has an effect on your posture, how you move and how your body and mind functions moment by moment day by day.

So, ensure that you first breathe into the belly and then the lungs. A great way to practice this is to do breathing squats. The breathing squat is an exercise that begins with standing up. Squat down as you exhale with palms drawn together and as you stand up, breath in, open up your arms (like a bird spread its wings), and expand the chest (solar plexus). Use this to correct or maintain your posture or even if you are feeling tired, anxious or sad and need to change your thoughts, feelings or attitude.

By changing just one of these, the other two are sure to follow.

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Good luck and if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

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