Breath, an inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs.
We often take this beautiful gift for granted. Our days are spent expelling a lot of words to each other, more so through virtual mediums these days than face to face. Either way, the focus is on getting our message across as quickly and deliberately as possible. During this time a series of emotions can take place.
For me, depending on what I'm writing there can be excitement, anxiousness, anger, sadness, etc. What I have found is that as in encounter one of these emotions, my body goes into tension and I begin to hold my breath. Unbeknown to me this has been a longtime habit, adopted in my adolescence. If I was escalating in emotion verbally/nonverbally I would deplete my oxygen levels then hold, only to inhale and repeat this same awful practice, until I finished my thought. I'm sure not to be the only human relating to this behavior, especially concerning anticipation.
My fitness transformation has been a focus on being more well rounded. This has put a lot of focus on mindfulness and how my body reacts during different phases of brain activities tied to the emotions listed above. Yoga/meditation has been a strong root for keeping me grounded. There is no other exercise out there that I found in which you have to rely on internal as well as external strength without a single weight involved.
The center of all practices is your focus on breathing into the most challenging parts of your session. Regardless of who is leading, this is a common theme. The relation of trying to hold your body weight on one leg (things you did without thinking as a kid), and preparing to present in front of c-level executives can both be achieved with greater ease by focusing on one's inhalation and exhalation. The most important piece of this practice is the nose should be the primary channel used when breathing.
We've been trained from a young age to mouth breath, mainly because as kids a lot of time was spent yelling, crying (out loud), belly laughing, and screaming. This pattern follows us throughout life and becomes a primary practice. As adults, we have to retrain our bodies to accept all the goodness from nasal breathing.
There is a myriad of benefits from nose breathing, but the one that most resonated with me was the protection of lungs and airways. Nose breathing filters, warms, and humidifies inhaled air, acting as the body’s first line of defense against allergens and pathogens. The mucus and cilia inside the nose are designed to block these pathogens from entering the respiratory airway and causing illness. This primes the air for respiration. (https://somnifix.com/pages/science)
This benefit from a health perspective was enough for me to put the intentional focus on how I took my breaths outside of yoga practice. What I've found to date goes well beyond the first line of defense statement. It is truly the epicenter of my calmness. It takes me from 100-0, faster than any other approach.
If you take anything away from today's writing is at least give it a try. Take 5 mins out of your day and just focus on intentionally breathing in and out of your nose. I promise it will wake things inside of your mind and body, that you forgot existed.
In our current environment where chaos is at a pinnacle, remember breathing is always there for you.