Want to calm down, become stronger, or think more clearly? Well, sit back for a minute and take in some really good news…
No, you don’t have to join yet another gym. And you don’t have to sign up for meditation classes. Anger management? Feh! Just… BREATHE.
That’s it??! Just breathe?? You’re kidding, right?
No, I am quite serious. And I will tell you why.
There is a disease going around today that is more prevalent than at any time in human history. Nope, not cancer. And not diabetes. And not arteriosclerosis. The disease going around is holding your breath.
And it is EPIDEMIC.
So why do people hold their breath in the first place instead of breathing in and out like a normal person, and more importantly, what’s so bad about holding your breath anyway?
Well, according to Bill Plake, a master Alexander Technique teacher, when you hold your breath you begin to interfere with your poise and coordination by creating unnecessary muscular tension in your whole body (i.e. you unduly stiffen yourself). Also, when you deprive yourself of oxygen you are taking your body out of its natural, balanced state. Every time you do so you create a little struggle in your body to get its needed oxygen. Also, holding your breath causes you to briefly impair the coordination of your breathing, especially on the proceeding inhalation. If you do this day in and day out, you’re developing habits that interfere with your ability to breath naturally and efficiently. Breathing is the most primary function we have in order to stay alive and healthy. Interfere with your breathing and you’ve interfered with your entire self.
Mr. Plake goes on to tell us that there are five main reasons why people hold their breath:
1) Fear – simply put, when you are afraid, you hold your breath.
2) Concentrating – making an effort to focus causes us to hold our breath.
3) Anticipating Effort – Think about lifting a heavy box. Holding your breath yet?
4) Preparing to speak – in preparation to say something, many people take in a big breath and hold it.
5) Relaxing – sink into a sofa after a long hard day. You want the world to stop, right? So you stop too. Breathing, that is.
Ok, so now we know why you stop breathing and we know that it’s bad for you. What are you going to do about it?
Simple. Focus on your breathing. When you are scared, concentrating, anticipating, preparing or relaxing, the first rule is BREATHE. Deep, slow belly breaths. Fill your lower body with air first, then your upper body. Exhale in reverse, emptying your upper chest, then your lower abdomen until you are a squeezed out tube of toothpaste. Repeat.
This takes only a little practice. And when you get good at it, you will be AWED by the difference it will make in your day. Get a little better at it and you will be SHOCKED at the difference it will make in your life!
Take the breathing challenge. It’s a gamechanger. It’s a lifesaver. Go for it.