Saturday, September 21, 2013

pulmo what?

I want to talk to you (yeah, you) about breath...

Breathing air means we are alive. When the breath goes, so do we.
You breathe in fresh air through your nose or your mouth, it travels down through your trachea into your bronchi and through your pulmonary alveoli into your blood via diffusion, through your heart and into your body. The oxygenated blood goes through arteries, capillaries to every internal organ, muscle, every cell gets some of that breath you just breathed. You exhale out all the waste in form of carbon dioxide. Your breath pauses and gets ready for the next inhale. This, day in and day out, your entire life... Spectacular, don't you agree?

Some people breathe shallow, quick and high so you see the ribcage/collar bone move, some people breathe deep and slow into their bellies. It always depends on what time of day, what emotional state you are in and what posture you are in. You can't possibly get a full slow breath in whilst sitting hunched over at your desk at midnight stressed out about your deadline.

Its important to take deep breaths, for the blood circulation, the muscles that get stretched during the breath, the lymphatic system that gets massaged and organs get some room.
When you inhale your ribcage lifts, expands in all four directions, activating those intercostal muscles, the diaphragm lowers, the pelvic floor relaxes and your belly naturally comes outwards which lightly stretch your stomach muscles. When you exhale your ribcage lowers and falls into place, your belly becomes flat again and your pelvic floor flexes slightly in and upwards.

When you inhale a shallow breath that stays at the very top of your ribcage, your body misses out on all that other movement it naturally craves to get.

How much time do we spend focussing on one of the most important actions our body does?
Not enough I would say. You agree? Now, I also think that you can't focus on your breath every waking moment and I also think it's not necessarily productive to force your breath in any certain way. I do, however, think that it is suuuper important to focus on your breath at least once a day.
Take a one minute break in between those phone calls, during lunch, while sitting on the toilet, right before you fall asleep (actually helps you fall asleep), after you wake up... whatever floats your boat.

If you are up for it, which I sincerely hope you are, give this a try:

Sit slightly in front of your sitting bones (those annoyingly sharp little nubs RIGHT in the middle of your butt cheeks (now if you are sitting on the toilet this might be a little difficult lol). Knees hip width apart, bent at a 90 degree angle, feet underneath your knees. Hands are laying on your thighs. Now breathe in through your nose, slowly (to a count of 10) and exhale slowly through your nose (to a count of ten) take that natural pause and repeat a few times. (remember: relax your shoulders and your face)
(You can also do this in whatever position you like, as long as your upper body is nicely upright if sitting or stretched out with arms by your sides if lying on your back, you can even do this standing.)

Another nice (and challenging) exercise is to 'listen' to your breath, which means to lie down, sit or however you like and observe how your breath comes and goes- without changing it or forcing it to be however you think it should be.

Its not a surprise that actors use breath techniques to help them get into an emotional state. I have mentioned before that I use breathing techniques to calm myself down, to focus myself on the present moment and it really grounds me and helps me to put some things in perspective. Try breathing short quick breathes and see how you start to feel in comparison to breathing slow long deep breathes.

Pretty amazing how you can influence yourself with a few breathes, mh?

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