When we were born, we knew how to breathe correctly. We instinctively knew to breathe deeply. Our breaths were rhythmical and relaxed. In the time of our very first breath, we knew what to do.
We might have been frightened, shocked or stressed. We may have panicked and our automatic response was to breathe quickly into our chests. Through the years this became our new habit. When I look around a yoga class, I see most people are shallow breathing. But if we do so for a long period of time, we start to believe this is normal.
As you sit at your computer now, notice what your breath is performing. Now breathe deeply. Notice what your shoulders are doing and how your stomach is feeling. Now sit up straight, roll your shoulders down and back. Release any tension in your gut. Now check in with your breath. Are you breathing deeply into your stomach? This new habit will take effort to keep at first. Keep checking in with your breath throughout the day and finally any tightness in your stomach will reduce.
Shallow breathing means that our organs don't get the same amount of oxygen as they do during heavy breathing. Your intestines are full of fresh oxygen. If you lay the alveoli out flat (the air sacks in the lungs), they would be the size of a 1 bedroom flat which is about 450 square feet. Imagine how much more effective and healthy our bodies will be if we breathed properly!
During shallow breathing, your sympathetic nervous system goes into a state of stress. This informs your body that you're stressed and releases the associated stress hormones. This then creates an imbalance in the body.
Imagine the difference to our health, vitality and energy if we were to breathe deeply everyday. Imagine the positive impact on our performance. Breathing deeply helps your body to perform at its best. It relieves tension, stress and anxiety. I find that if my breathing is fast and shallow, then my mind is over active. When I consciously control my breathing and aim for deep inhales and long exhales, my mind becomes more calm and I am less stressed.
Check how you are breathing now. Are you breathing deeply?