‘Improper breathing is a common cause of ill health. If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly. There is no single more powerful – or more simple- daily practice to further your health and well being than breathwork.’ ~ Andrew Weil, M.D.
We do it automatically without a thought and typically take it for granted. Usually we just do what our body automatically wants to do. Little do we know how important focusing on our breath is.
The average person uses 20% of their diaphragm capacity. We suck our stomachs in when we breathe which gives us less space in our diaphragm to fill with oxygen. Our stomachs should be moving out when we breathe in (not the shallow chest breathing that we all saw Kate Middleton do at the Royal Wedding when we are nervous). Breathing with your stomach opens up more space to take in more oxygen. You can learn quite a lot by watching what a little baby does when they breathe. Their stomachs move out and they take in as much oxygen as they can!
By focusing on opening up your diaphram, by moving your stomach out when you breathe in, you take in another 80% of oxygen. That extra oxygen helps to relieve stress, decrease blood pressure, relax your muscles, calm your mind, help you focus, and deliver more oxygen to every cell in your body.
FAST FACT: Oxygen is picked up by hemoglobin in the blood and distributed to trillions of cells in the body where it’s used to fuel cells and release energy (or ATP, adenosine triphosphate). The oxygen exchange at the lower portion of the lungs is the most efficient oxygen change – multiplying the benefits of deep breathing even more!
ACTION: Whenever your focus comes onto your breathing, even if it’s just for a second, be proud of yourself for focusing on it. Breathe in through your stomach and feel gratitude for what that extra oxygen is doing for you body.