Breath in...breath out, that’s a good start.
If you have the opportunity to watch a healthy baby breathing you may notice it is almost as if they are ‘breathed’. Their whole body reflects a respiratory wave.
Breathing is an automatic function but is still vulnerable to our below the radar poor habits and strategies. Scientists study human respiration through a very objective lens. Our bits and parts are compartmentalized in order to make their study more accessible. If the hardware; lungs, muscles, nervous system commands, workers at the air exchange factory (cells), pumps and pipes pass inspection then one is good to go from a structural standpoint.
The apparatus of breathing is, in the main, solely dedicated to breathing but not entirely.
Breathing can have a significant impact on other vital life functions even if there isn’t a hiccup in the hardware. We have heard that a chain is only as strong as its’ weakest link.
Posture, prehension (the act of reaching and grabbing), oro-facial mechanisms (speaking, swallowing and chewing) and gait (walking) all have functional tie-ins to respiration in a direct or indirect functional way. Most of our muscles are multi-taskers that serve these vital functions, often all at once i.e. standing/walking, speaking, eating and swallowing. If there is a poor co-ordination anywhere along the kinetic (movement) chain it can potentially pollute any of the shared functions given time and opportunity. Effortless respiration is the foundation for all good movement. If Momma ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy.
One doesn’t have to be a monk or certified yoga master to appreciate better breathing benefits.
Relaxed breathing can have a rate and rhythm that requires the least amount of effort. Using as little effort as possible but only as much as is necessary is a principle of good movement including respiration.
There are several common faults that can be addressed simply by paying attention. A gradual change over time may yield wonderful results.
In normal breathing there is an interval between exhalation and inhalation. The good stuff has been taken in and distributed and next breath delivers the next shipment ad infinitum. Sometimes there is such a long interval between breaths that it can be considered a subtle form of breath holding. There is a small effort not to breath and if this pattern is sustained over time it can create a measurable shift in our blood chemistry. This shift can effect our metabolic processes and our moods. Anxiety, depression, hyper activity may be associated with altered breathing patterns. One may beneficially alter these states to some degree by simply practicing a relaxed breathing pattern. While it may be appropriate to brace and hold one’s breath while tossing Volkswagens on the shelf breath holding otherwise stiffens the locomotor system activities and potentially requires more effort than necessary, like driving with the brakes on.
Belly breathing. In the best of circumstances as we breath in our abdominal diaphragm flattens horizontally and our bellies expand to accommodate the compression of organs and lung expansion. If one is a chest breather or partial chest breather in normal resting that takes way more effort to deliver less air where it should go, that is, to the bottom of the lungs. A simple test is to lie flat, put one hand over your belly button and the other in the middle of your your chest bone. What moves first? or at all? or together?
Breathe in...Breath out....practice and pay attention.