It may seem very basic – breathing is important to live! If I’m not breathing, I’m dead, right?
How many of us have all of a sudden taken a deep inhale, only to realize we had been holding our breath most of the day? It isn’t as simple as “I’m breathing or I’m dead” (and I use this example because this is what I’ve heard over the last eight years), we can take shorter chest breaths, or hold it for extended periods of time without realizing it.
There is emotional correlation as well to our breathing cycle.
Our breath sets up a chain of events that influences every aspect of body
Breathing in fully represents taking in life, breathing out fully represents the
ability to let go.
Our lungs expand and contract, which causes a rocking action in every part of the
When we breathe in deep, we stimulate a nerve in our diaphragm and stomach
called the vagus nerve, which takes us out of survival response and into rest and
It is important to know the role of stress as well—our minds can’t differentiate
between past and present, so when we look back onto stressful situations with
emotional charges our brain sends off the survival signal again.
When we are in survival mode, we take smaller, shallow breaths which rarely go
as far as the stomach and diaphragm, much less deeper to the intestines. The
reasons for this being the body needs to preserve all energy and use up its
resources to get us out of the perceived “danger”.
Once we are out of danger, we take a deep breath and relax. However, with our
culture today, there is perceived threats everywhere and it also depends on our
belief systems, past experiences and our own perception which is unique to every
If we don’t take those deep breaths throughout the day, not only can the physical process be compromised, but emotionally, it is harder to process our day and work through what is happening, whether it feels stressful or not.
We also don’t integrate our daily events as efficiently which can lead to emotional overwhelm at time, even physical tightness.
When we feel like we are struggling to just get through a day, we are in survival
mode. It is hard to cope with normal stress, it is hard to breathe, and the body
isn’t getting the proper oxygen which can lead to things like fatigue, weight gain,
indigestion just to name a few.
Breathing stimulates the diaphragm so we can breathe fully as well as process our
emotions, the rhythmic movement of the diaphragm also massages the liver and
other digestive organs to help facilitate their functioning. It also stimulates the
stomach, pancreas and spleen as well as peristalsis of the intestines.
The pelvis rocks with breathing cycles, the pubic bones move down and back with
the in breath and returns with the out breath. This is important for the expansion
and contraction of muscles in the pelvis and legs. This helps with the venous
return of blood as well as act as a lymphatic pump.
Breathing also helps with the cranial bones which improve blood circulation and
lymph in the head. It helps with the cerebrospinal fluid circulation which helps
supply the brain with nutrients, helps us take in more information and have a
clear mind. It helps facilitate the CSF fluid down the spine which is important for
homeostasis in the body.
So, is there a specific breathing technique we can do to help? Absolutely! This technique is great before bed, it gets you in a rest state before attempting to fall asleep which, over time of consistent use, can help you fall asleep better with better quality of sleep. Often we are in sympathetic mode even though we are sleeping, which means we do not go deep into REM, and we may wake feeling groggy, tired, or slow to get up, not as mentally sharp or well rested.
This technique focuses on the pelvis to help retrain the breathing cycle. Do this right before sleep, so make sure everything you need to do before bed is done before you continue on with this technique.
1) Lay down and bend both knees so that your feet are flat on the bed, hip width apart. Be aware of your abdomen and pelvis while taking slow breaths.
2) On the inhalation, the pelvis should press downward onto the bed, causing the abdomen to rise and an arch to form under the low back.
3) On exhalation, the pelvis should move upward toward the ceiling, the abdomen sinking and the low back to rest against the bed.
4) Do 5 exaggerated breaths with the rocking sequence with your legs bent.
5) Do 5 exaggerated breaths with the rocking sequence with your legs down.
6) Then spend two minutes breathing naturally, while focusing on the subtle rocking of the pelvis.
7) Go to sleep.
Precautions – do not overdo the exercise, and do not do without the okay from a medical professional, especially if there are any spinal issues.
What this can improve:
*Brain function and clarity
Take notes and be aware of how you breathe. If you decide to do this – take note of how you’re feeling physically, how your sleep is, how you feel waking up and check in once a week minimum to see how it is changing for you.
You may think your sleep is good because it is what you’re used to, so be aware! Increased energy and clarity might happen even if you think it is good right now!