The Breath: Pt. 1

Before you continue reading, I want you to take a long, slow, deep breath... Go.

Feel better? 

I’d bet that you do. That is because the majority of humans are living their lives not breathing. When I say you’re not breathing, I mean that you never think about it, and therefore your autonomic system is doing just what it needs to do to keep you alive. “The breath is the only system in our body that can be controlled consciously OR subconsciously.” When we leave the task up to the automatic responses in the body without much thought, the results are shallow breathing, which will produce the minimum amount of oxygen our body requires to survive. It never fully clears the lungs and heart of carbon dioxide and other debris, which can lead to or exasperate a host of health issues (like asthma, anxiety, trouble focusing, chronic fatigue, and more). When we take control of our breathing we increase our oxygen intake, detox our blood, lungs, diaphragm and heart, and as an added bonus we start living more fully in the present. 

Unconscious breathing has been likened unto “Sleepwalking through life”. That is because you are giving your subconscious mind complete control. This results in a loss of control (or agency) of your thought patterns as well. You will notice as you begin to practice conscious breathing exercises, you will be more aware of the thoughts that surface which will give you the power to choose if you’d like to continue thinking those thoughts or if you want to start making changes. 

The breath is the bridge between the physical and spiritual bodies. The two can only work together if there is the breath. When there is no breath, the spiritual body will separate from the physical body. More breath will result in a stronger presence of your spiritual body giving us power over our “natural man” tendencies. 

So now that you know you’d like to start breathing more in your life, you need to know HOW to do it. There are three chambers in the core of your body which the breath can fill. You’re lower stomach, or diaphragm, your chest/lung area, and your upper back between your shoulders. When you take a deep breath it’s important you completely fill each of these chambers. As a good practice it helps to lie down and focus on breathing into each chamber individually for several breaths before moving onto the next one.

Begin with your lower stomach. Place your hands there so you can feel the rise and fall of your abdomen. Breathe into just the lower stomach for about 30 seconds. Next, do the same with your chest- only filling the chest with air, put your hands there so you can feel the rise and fall. Lastly, your upper back. This is the most difficult to breathe into individually, but you can do it!

Once you have discovered all these chambers, you can begin filling them all together with one, long and slow, deep breath. Fill the chambers up in the same order you practiced discovering them: 

* Picture the flow of air filling your lower stomach until it has to continue onto filling your lungs and as you begin to feel like you can’t take any more air in, fill that upper chamber at the top of your back, behind your shoulders. 

*Once you’ve taken this great breath, don’t push it out suddenly and forcefully! Hold it in for just a few seconds, then s l o w l y release the air in the same order you filled up, releasing from your diaphragm, then your chest, and lastly your upper back. 

*Just as you thought you couldn’t take in any more air before you filled your upper back, I want you to force more air out. Push it all out until you feel you need to hunch your shoulders over, then hold it for just another second. 

THAT’S IT! One complete breath. This should have taken you at least 10 seconds. While this seems superfluous at the beginning, the more you add this kind of breathing into your day, the better you will feel! Try making a goal to do deep, controlled breathing while you drive, or while you are sitting at the computer. Just a few minutes a day can make a great impact on your life. 

Refrences: Meditation as Medicine by Dharma Singh Khalsa and Cameron Stauth | Awake! As in Ancient Days by Felice Austin

Photos for Foundation c/o Skye Amanda Photography

Chablis is a military wife, mother of four, and nutrition enthusiast. She is constantly learning ways to better not only her own wellbeing, but that of her family. Chablis is a Step and Zumba instructor and she also practices Kundalini Yoga and daily meditation. Being a military wife has taught her resilience and faith as well as made her an expert cross-country mover.