Why practise Conscious Breathing?
We know that our lives are measured in breaths:
Between them there is a whole array of inhalations and exhalations, one following the other without much pause. Hopefully. And hopefully effortlessly.
Breathing is one of the most essential actions for our bodies. We need Oxygen to produce energy in our cells. No energy, no….well you know. And of course it is much more convenient not having to think ‘I am breathing in, I am breathing out.’ What a headache that would be.
All of that considered, wouldn’t it be best to leave well alone and not become conscious of how we are breathing? Or to try to influence in and out breaths with our minds? Usually we only become aware when breathing is prevented or interfered with.
Let’s see what else Breathing does:
- Supplying Oxygen (O2) to the cells we mentioned before.
- Getting rid of Carbon Dioxide(CO2) - the ‘waste’ product of using O2 ) is also crucial.
- Influencing the ph balance levels of the blood.
- Aiding circulation in capillaries.
- Changing the states of the Autonomic Nervous System.
Sounds complicated? In simple terms it means that without getting rid of CO2 we would run out of energy because or cells and blood would get choked with it. CO2 is very important though for getting O2 into the cells to start with.
So, if we are breathing too much, we lower the CO2 concentration in the blood, at the same time making it harder for the body to produce energy. It also creates the need for more effort of the heart to bring more O2 into the tissues.
Breathing involves the lungs. Interestingly using the deeper and lower parts of the lungs more means increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. That makes us feel calmer and supports digestive activity, bringing nourishment to all parts of the body. If we breathe more shallowly, higher in the ribcage or faster, the balance shifts towards the sympathetic nervous system. We become activated or agitated, alert, want to do things.
Obviously we need both aspects of this system. But how do we get the best from our bodies? Do we steer our bodies to support the activity we are engaged in? Or are we allowing a habit or an emotional state to run us, preventing us from thinking clearly, making the best decisions and frightening other people off with our moodiness?
You may begin to wonder if you could improve your sleeping habits simply by learning to breathe differently. Or if you can increase your energy levels. Or your ability to concentrate and focus? And how would that affect your mood or your performance at home or at work?
Am I saying that one thing (i.e. breathing) can help you to feel more activated AND more relaxed? Well, kind of.
DRU Breath Coaching teaches the EBR methodology. EBR is short for Energising, Balancing and Relaxing. Different types of breathing will create different effects. These techniques are safe and easy to learn, their effects can be observed within minutes.
Talking about performance, those amongst us who are really concerned about pushing their performance to or beyond their limits know that the ability to breathe usually is the decisive factor for their performance.
They will include breath awareness and specific breathing practices in their training and preparation for competitions or outstanding performances.
They know that when the finishing line comes into sight, running out of breath is not an option.
Why shouldn’t we all make use of the knowledge that good breathing habits result in feeling well? The only reason I know of is that we believe breathing happens “all by itself” and therefore our body knows best. Which is true to a certain point.
But if we experience stressful situations more often than it takes our nervous system to unwind, the accompanying shallow rapid breathing pattern becomes the new norm. And so we begin to breathe and live in a permanently ’stressed state’, recreated from moment to moment by breathing fast and shallowly.
How can we change that?
An athlete would call it training.
We say: Practising healthier breathing patterns and noticing how we feel after doing that.
The investment is small, a few minutes three times a day. It’s like taking a ‘Breath - Pill‘. The benefits are huge:
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We are Kari van Eden and Michael Cordel. Our love for nature supports our interest in helping others rediscover their connection to Yoga and the Earth. Practising Yoga outdoors is especially useful to centre us, to anchor our mind and bring space into ourselves.