Being Fully Human Tip # 9: How to breathe in the beauty around you
“Every breath in is strength. Every breath out is freedom.” – Gloria Latham
If you stop and think about it, the human body is a work of art; and how we breathe is truly a remarkable process.
Air flows through the mouth and nose, through our air passages into the bronchial trees of our lungs, and to the alveoli sacs where gas exchange occurs. Oxygen from the inhaled air is transferred to the blood, and carbon dioxide from the blood is transferred to the air in the lungs. This all occurs against the backdrop of the gentle rise and fall of the lungs, diaphragm, and abdominal muscles, with each inhale and exhale.
Practicing yoga for the past two years, I have noticed that my ability to remain grounded, balanced, and strong has been improved by how I breathe.
Yoga is premised upon a breath-body-mind connection. It believes that by breathing lots of oxygen into challenging and tense body poses, you help your body to become stronger and in turn, help your mind to do the same. I’ve experienced the benefits of yoga in my life, and truly believe in the importance of maintaining the integrity of my breath as the key link between the body and mind, both on the yoga mat and during the course of my daily life.
I watched a TED talk recently which reminded me of the miracle of our breath. It speaks to our ability to use our breath to reconnect to ourselves, integrate new patterns of thought, and benefit our overall well-being. I also really liked the challenge proposed to viewers: To try to take deeper breaths in their daily life.
My challenge for myself is to take 20 deeper breaths per day for this next week. Here is the step by step guide for how to do this each day if you would like to join me:
1. Wherever you are sitting, sit tall and place your palms on your thighs, open and facing upwards.
2. With each inhale, send the breath in from your nose to fill the upper abdomen. As you inhale, slowly close your hands towards you to make a soft fist. Breathe in strength, courage, and everything you need to get through the day.
3. With each exhale, breathe out smoothly and evenly through your nose. As you exhale, open your palms on your thighs. Breathe out tension, fear, and worry, or anything else you are holding on to and do not need.
4. Try this for a 5 breaths to get the hang of it.
5. For your next 5 breaths, as you do this, think about someone you love.
6. For the following 5 breaths, as you do this, think about someone who loves you.
7. For the last 5 breaths, as you do this, think about what you’re grateful for.
This series of steps is how I started my day today, and feel great as a result. You can also add in your own questions to start the day.
By taking time to breathe deeply and integrating positive messages with my breath, I am better able to relax when I need to, take on a busy day, and remain grateful throughout the process. It helps me practice mindfulness, be in the present, and fully experience each moment. Finally, reconnecting with my breath helps me take in the beauty around me, savour the sweetness of life, and feel my energetic connection with others and the world around me.
So I challenge you to try taking 20 deeper breaths each day this next week, and let me know the difference it makes for you.