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How to Breathe and Why You Must

A few weeks ago I started a series of posts I’m calling Recover You. The series is focused on practices and habits that I believe lead to a healthier mind, body and spirit, a healthier business and ultimately a healthier economy.

You can catch the entire Recover You series here.

breathing

photo credit: shawnzrossi via photopin cc

I’ll admit that some readers may click over to this post because the title seems so odd. I mean, really, you’re going to tell us how to breathe?

Breathing is perhaps the most mindless of all human behaviors and what I’ve discovered is that an intentional practice of mindful breathing is perhaps one of the most powerful tools you can employ.

Depending up what we do throughout the day most of us average between 20,000 and 30,000 breaths each day. Breathing is the thing we do the most, is certainly vital to our existence and, yet, we do it without thought. Such is the miracle of the human body.

But, just because we can do it without thought, doesn’t mean we should. Consider this, your breath controls how you feel, think, absorb, react, move and speak – so what if you learned how to use it as a tool to better control these things?

Breathing is something you must do now. You can’t breathe in the past, you can’t breathe in the future. What if you used your breath as a way to stay grounded in the present – the only place you can make a difference.

Many Eastern teachings, including meditation and yoga, are founded on the idea of using your breath to fire your mind body connection, but you can access the power of this tool with a few simple actions.

Here’s a great example: The next time you’re feeling stress over a situation, phone call, deadline, or meeting. Close you eyes and consciously take three or four really deep breaths with equally deep exhalations and notice how much tension you release from places you didn’t even feel.

And another practical application: I suffer from high blood pressure. I’ve been able to control this with a breathing practice (and eating better and getting more exercise)

Several times throughout the day I use mindful breathing as a way to declutter the head from too much input and return to why I’m doing what I’m doing. I believe it’s one of my most important productivity tools.

The benefits of intentional breathing techniques are no longer held only in the new age or holistic worlds. Traditional Western medical practitioners have also embraced the benefits of breathing exercises.

Here’s what modern medicine is finally admitting. Most chronic illness is stress related and intentional breathing is the greatest stress buster never developed by a pharmaceutical company.

Work, owning a business, running a business all involve a high degree of stress at times and that’s why I believe adding this element to your tool box is essential.

I practice a form of breathing commonly called Pranayama – a term that applies to many forms and varieties.

Simply put it involves taking slow, deep, full breaths for a number of counts, holding them for a number of counts and releasing them fully for a number of counts repeatedly for about ten minutes.

This is something I do every morning and I can’t tell you how energized and relaxed I feel after completing it.

I found an app (I know, how ironic is that) from Saagara that I use because it guides the process without getting in the way. The site is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to learn more about this topic and other related topics.

And one last grammar related note – Breath is a noun. Breathe is a verb. Hopefully my usage added up.