By contributor Robin Long
As constant and reliable as the beating of our hearts, our breath sustains us without effort or thought. In this moment, as you read this, you’re breathing in, breathing out, rhythmically feeding the body oxygen to keep your body alive, healthy and well.
It may surprise you that something as simple and natural as improved breathing could dramatically improve your health but it’s true. We all know that breath is essential to our survival, but did you know that focusing on your breath can be a vehicle to wellness, health and rejuvenation?
As a Pilates instructor, I cue my clients through deep breathing in every exercise. Generally we link the breath with the body and inhale and exhale along with the movement and exertion. But for those who are particularly anxious or stressed, I lead them trough deep breathing alone. While lying on their back, focusing on the simple act of breathing.
Most of us use as little as 10% of our entire lung capacity as we move about through the day. Our lungs are able to expand and contract in ways that many of us have never even experienced.
Incorporating deep breathing into your day is as simple way to improve your body, mind and well-being.
Here are 3 of the many reasons you should breathe deeply every day:
- Deep breathing creates a connection between your mind and body that can lead to greater self-awareness, mindfulness and clear thinking.
- Deep breathing improves your circulation, which improves your heart health, energy levels and helps the body eliminate toxins.
- Deep breathing reduces stress. Focusing on your breath causes you to forget the worries of your day, if only for a few minutes. Life is stressful. There is so much to think about, so much to consider and so many issues to worry about. Taking a few moments to think only of your breath will refresh your perspective, improve your outlook and calm your worries.
All in all, deep breathing improves your mood, increases circulation and reduces stress. The brain needs oxygen to function in its optimal state and deep breathing increases blood and oxygen flow to the brain.
I encourage to incorporate intentional breathing into your life every day. It’s a skill that leads to a healthier life. You’ll be able to stay in-tune with your body and what your body needs– allowing to think more clearly and make smart decisions regarding your health.
A Daily Breathing Exercise:
Lay on your back with your hand resting down by your side. Take 5 slow breaths, inhaling for a count of 5 and exhaling for a count of 5.
For the next 5 breaths place your hands on your belly. Feel your hands rise as you inhale and exhale slowly to the count of 5.
Next, place your hands along the sides/front of your rib cage. Repeat the 5 slow breaths and feel your ribs expand and contract as you breath deeply to the count of 5.
It’s simple but the effects are profound. Give it a try and let me know what you discover?
Do you have tips and tricks to stay mindful of your breath each day? I’d love to hear them.
is a Pilates instructor and creator of The Balanced Life, a website dedicated to helping women find a balanced approach to health & fitness. She’s anti-guilt, pro-balance and passionate about empowering women to take care of themselves through exercise, healthy eating, self-care and of course, Pilates. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook for daily motivation, tips and encouragement.