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Why Proper Breathing Is Vitally Important (Hint: It's NOT The Way We're Taught)

Okay, let’s face it, you’ve been living life, differently, for quite some time now.


Less human interaction.


Less smiles.


Less hugs. (I can’t even remember the last time I hugged my Nana, how sad is that?)


And although you may not have realized it while it was happening, changing your lifestyle so drastically can be pretty unsettling for both you and your nervous system.


Maybe you’re feeling disturbed about the state of the world, or you feel your heart starting to race out of nowhere, and maybe on top of that your jaw is clenched and your palms are sweaty (no mom’s spaghetti here, unfortunately).


And the cherry on top of this cake: these occurrences are happening more and more frequently.


You’re tired of endless trips to different doctors/healers/therapists. And the tests! Test after test. All for a potential diagnosis that doesn’t feel like it’s solving your underlying problem.


And you definitely don’t want to spend the rest of your life on medication.


Something’s got to give, right?


There’s no way that hundreds of years ago human beings weren’t going through their own trials and tribulations. And if they were, there was no Xanax to take the edge off.


So what did they do?


To get right to the point, it’s something you’re already doing. You do it all the time. Everyday in fact.

How it differs, though, is you weren’t taught how to use it in a way that’ll help you.


You were taught it’s automatic. It’ll take care of itself.


Know where I’m heading with this? Yup, your breath.


That’s right, when you breathe properly (more on this later), not only are you getting the sufficient amount of oxygen your body needs to survive, but you’re actually taking your body from a state of fight or flight and bringing it into balance with the parasympathetic nervous system — our bodies’ rest and restore side of the nervous system.1


Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “Wait, does that mean that I’m breathing...wrong? Can I even do that?


Don’t worry — it’s not wrong by any means, it’s just not as beneficial as it could be. We’re about to get into all of that right now.



So, how do I breathe properly?


I know it feels funny to think that there’s a “proper” and “improper” way to breathe, but this part of your autonomic nervous system is a key component to how your body handles stress.


Every organ, muscle, bone, and cell in your body has a one-of-a-kind job to do.


The same is true for what we use to breathe. Here are the body parts you should be using for a proper breath technique:


Your nose

Sure, your nose provides you the ability to smell things and looks cute with a hoop in it, but it also serves a few vital functions in your ability to breathe.


When you breathe in through your nose, here’s what happens before the air gets to your lungs:4


  • It cleanses and filters the air as you breathe in

  • Warms the air up to your body temperature

  • Adds moisture to the air to make sure it’s not too dry for your throat


And you thought your nose was just to smell the flowers, didn’t you?


Your diaphragm and belly

Most of us, especially when we feel scared or anxious, tend to breathe short, shallow breaths. The air never sees the bottom of our lungs, let alone anywhere else in the body.


Your diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle that sits just below your lungs. When you breathe in and your breath travels downward, your diaphragm contracts and flattens. This allows your lungs to expand to their maximum size — AKA letting you take in the most air and oxygen!


When you’re breathing properly, the breath that you’re inhaling actually travels into your lungs and extends down to the diaphragm and into your belly.



What are the benefits of deep breathing?


When you’re able to breathe in a downward direction, into your belly, you’re actually stimulating the longest cranial nerve in your body — the vagus nerve. This nerve comes directly out of the brain, not your spine like the majority of your nerves and [insert benefit of breath going directly to this nerve].


Traveling from the brain stem, around the larynx, and around and down the spinal cord, your vagus nerve is responsible for many elements of your body’s parasympathetic nervous system.


It sends tiny electrical pulses to the heart, telling it to slow down. It also:3


  • Controls and balances your mood

  • Turns your immune system back online (When you’re in a fight-or-flight situation, it gets turned off to allow energy to be directed towards other things.)

  • Shuts off inflammatory processes within your organ’s cells

  • Stimulates digestion

  • Stimulates bile release from the liver


All of these incredible, even life-transforming health benefits, just from learning how to establish a deep, proper way of breathing.


It’s totally free and available to you whenever you need it.


Bottom line: If you’re not breathing deeply, into the diaphragm, lungs, and belly, then you’re missing out on a free, easy, and fast way to relieve stress and anxiety.


In fact, you’re continually keeping yourself in a state of fight-or-flight with your nervous system on high alert.


Don’t worry though, you don’t have to go through hours and hours of training to learn how to use these healing practices.



Where do I start?


Well, if you’ve made it this far, why not start right now?


Let’s try the box breathing.




Wherever you’re reading this, let yourself get nice and comfy for a moment (sitting or laying down — I like to put a pillow under my knees while laying on my back).


Now, gently closing your lips, start to inhale through your nose.


Inhale for 1…2…3... 4….


Great! Now hold your breath for the same amount of time. Four counts.


And lastly, open your mouth slightly, and let all of that air go as you exhale for 1...2...3...4….


You can choose to hold here for another four counts, or start inhaling through the nose for the same amount of time, beginning a new round.


Catchin’ my drift?


If you find that holding your breath for four counts is a lot on your lungs, start smaller! Try three counts, or even two. The trick with this one, is to stay consistent with each inhale, hold, and exhale.


If learning this new technique doesn’t feel right in your living room, come on down to the studio. Every single one of our classes implements different breathing techniques, all of which will assist your body in its healing process.


Whether to help you sleep, slow your heart rate, or energize your body, there is a breathing technique that will help you achieve the results you want


Can’t wait to see you at the studio soon!


PS — Did we mention that your first class is FREE? Yup, no matter which one it is. That’s right honey, you’re able to try our Buti GLOW, Vinyasa Fusion, and more, completely risk-free. All you have to do is show up!


References


  1. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/breathing-exercises?gclid=CjwKCAjw6fCCBhBNEiwAem5SO2Nie16gDlMQQujHB_Yr44OAVsFawphagsMrE6nirFJNcRHe3MNg8BoCQUgQAvD_BwE

  2. https://nutritiouslife.com/live-consciously/breathing-incorrectly/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859128/

  4. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/7-surprising-facts-nose/

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