1. Optimize Respiration
Updated: Apr 3, 2020
Breathing is simple, yet it is not easy. Few people understand the importance of proper breathing. Breathing connects us to our reality by keeping us in sync with our environment. In high school, I learned the “Rule of 3” for biological survival. Death is imminent if the human body goes without air for 3 minutes, water for 3 days, or food for 3 weeks. Water may be the source of life but oxygen is immediately essential for living.
Natural breathing is taught in many cultures around the world as belly breathing. There are thousands of different exercises to help us adapt our breathing to any situation. For now, we can keep it as simple as inhaling through the nose while expanding the belly (diaphragm) and filling the lungs with as much air as a relaxed breath allows. Once the lungs are full, exhale through the mouth and deflate the lungs and belly. With practice we can attain a seamless transition from inhale to exhale. With more practice, this can become the way we breathe naturally in accordance with the intensity of the situations we find ourselves in.
If you’re wondering about the importance of the nose and the diaphragm, think of your respiratory system like an engine. Most engines run optimally with a functioning air filter and proper ventilation for fuel exhaust. Oxygen = fuel. Nose = filter (smaller opening with hairs on all sides to catch allergens. Mouth = exhaust vent (larger opening with no obstructions). Bulging the diaphragm makes more room below the lungs, allowing them to fill completely. It also massages the organs and uses the abs in a way that both strengthens and stretches the muscles.
So, take a deep breath. Smile, and be thankful for those nose hairs and that sheet of muscle that pops our bellies out. They are a big part of what keeps us healthy.