How many times has someone told you to take a deep breath, only to find that you feel worse? The common misconception of taking a “deep breath” often includes a big inhale, expanding your chest, and elevating your shoulders. However, this is not truly deep, nor effective in oxygenating our system. A true healthy breath is deep in the diaphragm and abdominal region while being gentle and quiet. It also emphasizes the exhale portion of the breath to facilitate oxygen delivery in our body. Both the inhale and the exhale are gentle and adjusted to only what you need in the moment.
The strain of our everyday lives may affect our ability to maintain a harmonious breathing pattern, and may be further aggravated by acquired habits and postures. We can support healthy breathing by increasing our internal awareness of the demands of our body during work, play, while sitting, standing, perceiving, thinking, talking and interacting. This includes noting the tensions and potential negative habits, which can drain our energy and affect our mind, body posture and breath.
It is important to stop frequently, both during rest and activity, to ask “What breath do I need?” In this moment of pause creates the opportunity to reflect on “How am I being?” To ask whether you’re holding your breath, breathing too fast or shallow, clenching your teeth, carrying unnecessary tension, or dropping your chest. Then you may allow yourself to finally flow back to that free, gentle and harmonious breath. The more often you ask the question, the easier it becomes to identify your triggers and to return to your relaxed breath.