Updated: Mar 15, 2020
Sounds simple, right? Did you know each of us takes on average somewhere between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths every day? That is a lot of inhaling and exhaling. Are you getting the most from those several thousand efforts? How does the quality of breath impact your body? Your mind? This article will give you tools to help you observe your current breathing patterns and provide you ways to expand your breath capacity.
Observe Your Breath
Find a quiet space and a comfortable seat. Everyone's definition of a "comfortable seat" will be different. Perhaps it is on a couch or chair. If it is on the floor, make sure you are supported and your hips are above your knees (seated on cushion, or bolster).
Once you are comfortable, focus your attention on your "normal" breath at that particular time, on that particular day. Pay attention to the feeling of your inhalation. How long does it take? How does your chest cavity, ribs, and abdomen feel as you inhale?
Now pay equal attention to your exhalation. How long does it take? Is it shorter, longer or about the same as your inhalation? How does your chest cavity and abdomen feel?
Expand Your Breath
On your next few rounds of breath, focus on expanding the duration of your inhalation by a few seconds. If your "normal" inhale was 3 counts, now try to inhale to a count of 5 or 6. As you inhale, relax your belly. Feel it expand with your inhalation.
When ready to exhale, begin to exhale from your belly - from the bottom of your abdomen, and push the air out of your lungs. Focus on expanding the duration of your exhalation, ideally your exhalation is always longer than your inhalation. If your "normal exhalation" was 3 counts, try to exhale to a count of 5 or 6. Pay attention to how your body feels as you breath to the expanded count.
As you are comfortable, continue the expanded breath work for 5 complete breaths. (inhalation and exhalation).
Benefits of Expanded Breath
There are numerous benefits to expanding the breath. You will find it calms the body, and calms the mind. It is relaxing. It will help lessen the feeling of stress or anxiety. You are also expanding your lung capacity which can help with immunity.
When to practice
Try to commit to a morning breath practice. You will find starting your day with 10-15 minutes of focused breathing will help you to relax your "normal" daily breathing and begin your day with a stress-free mind.