“Life is in the breath. One who half breathes, half lives.” Chinese Proverb
As I write this 1,000’s of feet up in the air in a plane, taking a deep breath seems to take on a very different set of life skills. Why is that? Recycled air, crunched seating with one’s body confined to a very small area of moving room, cabin pressure, and oh those little tiny bathrooms that when toilets are flushed you wonder if you just might be sucked down and out into the wild blue yonder!
This post is dedicated to the deep diaphragmatic breath. I call it the breath of flight, not only because I am writing this confined to that little tiny seat and breathing recycled air, but because I believe that this breath assists us to take flight in our lives.
Used in many different situations, this deep breath marks moments when we are reminded that we are indeed biological creatures that need air to function. Often we find ourselves taking a deep breath because all of a sudden we realize that we have not been breathing at all…or I guess I should say very shallowly. For periods of time when focused on something outside of our bodies – which is often by the way – we hold our breath.
How in the world can we remain more conscious to breathe fully with all of our primary breathing muscles instead of secondary ones? Most people use secondary breath muscles which are the muscles of the front of the neck, pectoralis muscles in the chest, sternocleidomastoid, and the upper trapezius.
What are not used as often are the primary muscles of breathing which include the diaphragm, intercostal (between the ribs) and the abdominal muscles that are meant to give us that full-bodied breathing experience that our bodies innately crave.
Awareness is the key here. What if we took Breath Awareness Breaks (BAB’s for short) instead of coffee breaks? Might we feel more enlivened, relaxed, peaceful, focused and creative? The daily practice of rhythmic (wave-like) diaphragmatic breathing with gradual and equal prolongation of the inhalation and exhalation will enhance the body’s ability to experience a sense of deep relaxation and rest, free of stress and strain, and with a marked feeling of calm and peace.
Diaphragmatic Wave Breath Practice:
*Sit upright in a chair with both feet on the floor or ground, or lay down with something under your knees and head if necessary. (No the latter position will not work in the airplane!)
*Place your hands on your legs palm side down, if you are seated. If lying down rest your hands on your belly to encourage the inhale to expand there first.
*Take 3 deep breaths with mouth slightly open and relax – feeling the stress exit your body and the toxic mental chatter drain away. Let your body relax/soften into the chair, or the surface you are lying on.
*Inhale completely through your nostrils with your mouth closed allowing the lower abdomen/stomach area to push out/rise up as the air moves in. (contraction of diaphragm – it moves down.)
*Exhale completely through the nostrils releasing all of the air out and drawing the naval (belly button) down towards your spine and up under the ribs. (relaxing of diaphragm – it relaxes back up.) The wave of breath unfolds itself to the shore of the next pause.
*Do this practice in a series of 7 breaths. Rest for 2 minutes while being aware of your breathing and how you feel in your body, mind and emotions. Repeat the process two more times.
This breath massages all of the internal organs, encourages the movement and flow of the lymphatic and vascular systems, – and of course exercises the respiratory system which requires moment to moment workouts to keep it healthy and strong.
This is especially important when we are sitting for long periods of time or inactive physically. Next time that you fly, whether in an airplane or on your next stepping off of the proverbial cliff for a life change flight, put your attention on the wave breath and see what happens.
“To become a welcome vessel for the breath is to live life without trying to control, grasp, or push away.” Donna Farhi, The Breathing Book
Breathing 101: We are all breathing in some fashion, even when we are not aware of our breath, but the normal patterns of breathing are usually shallow, restricted, and contain many holding patterns. These reflect deep imbalances in our systems. When our breathing patterns are weak, we may have low energy and find ourselves easily fatigued and more emotionally stressed. When our breathing patterns are deep and strong, we have increased endurance, stamina, and a sense of well-being.
For further information about this 2 hour workshop, please go to the tab above and consider contacting Gaye Abbott, RYT for an experience that will unlock your potential to thrive in life through breath awareness.
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