While breathing simply is "the process of taking air into and expelling it from the lungs." There is so much to your breathing than what you may be conscious of. For instance, if you observe yourself and even some of the people around you, you may notice that breathing is taking place regularly at a shallow level-- from the chest. Lots of folks are not maximizing the lungs and reaping the benefits of deep breathing which involves the abdomen, diaphragm and then the chest. What you may also notice upon conscious observation is yourself breathing more through your mouth than your nostrils.
So while the common idea about breathing is linked to inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, here are a few other important functions of your breathing, more specifically deep breathing:
Exercises the organs: deep breathing-- that involves using the diaphragm exercises your abdominal muscles and massages the stomach, liver, intestine, heart, and pancreas thereby improving their functioning. Most times focus is on the external self when it comes to exercise, but deep breathing is a way to give our internal body a workout as well.
Detoxification: breathing is one of the ways the body releases toxins and purifies its systems-- from air pollution, to contaminated water, everyday foods and more along with carbon dioxide. Taking deep breaths is a way to oxygenate your cells and balance the body's pH. When we don’t take deep breaths, the body is less efficient at releasing toxins. This makes the other systems in the body overloaded as they work to detoxify the blood, often leading to illnesses-- this is why inhalation of oxygen is so important. Another thing to take note of his how oxygen enters the body-- "When you breathe in through your nose, the air is warmed, moistened, conditioned and mixed with nitric oxide, which does two important functions-- it kills deadly bacteria and works as a vasodilator on the airways, your arteries, and capillaries" (Breathing.com). As opposed to mouth breathing, nasal breathing increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung function. Breathing through the mouth allows ingestion of more toxins and at one time, and there is not a filtration process that takes place as with nasal breathing.
Stress Reduction: some, if not most people experiencing anxiety breathe from their chest. Shallow breathing and anxiety disorders often go together. Shallow or constricted breathing occurs when we are in fight-or-flight mode, telling the body that we are unsafe. This results in anxiety, panic, and hyperventilation as the body prepares for danger. If you ask some people where they physically feel anxiety, they may say in their chest-- this is the area where they are breathing from. Deep breathing slows the adrenaline produced by a fight-or-flight situation and allows you to self-soothe and emotionally regulate. Please note that a fight-or-flight situation does not always look dramatic-- it is any situation perceived as unsafe, triggering or exacerbating anxiety.
So while meditation may be seen as monks sitting for hours in isolation just breathing for hours, or something only some people can do. Meditation is an excellent practice to help you focus on your breathing and develop "correct" breath flows. Practicing yoga, regular exercise and time you can create to exercise your breath are other ways you can center your breathing.
For more information about nose breathing vs mouth breathing, you can visit https://breathing.com/pages/nose-breathing.
**Information in this blog is not meant to treat or diagnose any health conditions. The information is for motivational, inspirational and education purposes only. Please reach out to a healthcare provider if you need health related attention.