The Biology of Breathing | Body Education

Your body is an amazing, breathing organism! Every day you move through the world maintaining the constant, vital cycle of inhaling and exhaling air. The importance of breath - the way you breathe - the length, pace, and depth - is all part of the art of living in the body. Explore the benefits of honing your breath for better physical and mental well-being by studying the flow of your body’s natural biology and chemistry.

Breathing correctly is vital for safe and effective workout results. This is not just a matter of getting enough oxygen to the lungs and other organs; oxygenating the body (in addition to things like carbohydrates) supplies a building block to the muscle cells, creating energy to refuel and rebuild muscles for the desired workout results. Athletes are taught to breathe deeply into their stomach, expanding their belly for support, in order to better utilize muscles for deeper, stronger breaths. Your diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle in your stomach that contracts downward, filling your lungs with air as you inhale. Imagine an accordion effect, expanding not only horizontally, but also vertically and radially. When dancing or working out, optimize the results by focusing on your breathing, in order to create and maintain strong movement support through use of your diaphragm.

In addition to sustaining your workout, breathwork is a vital aspect of meditation and in-body communication, and can be used to reduce stress and anxiety. Anxious symptoms, such as heart rate, adrenaline, and cortical (stress hormones that cause premature aging), can all be reduced by learning to monitor and control breathing. When you find yourself sitting in a quiet moment or seeking relief from anxiety or stress, concentrate on your breath and try these simple meditative steps:

1. Begin by slowly breathing in through your nose through the count of 4. Breathe into your belly so your diaphragm expands.

2. Now hold that breath and keep your diaphragm expanded to the count of 4.

3. Exhaled slowly through your mouth to the count of 4.

4. Repeat 4 times, or as many times as feels right in your body.

The focused experience of airflow through the lungs, nose, and mouth works as a reset button for the mind and cells, and provides space for peaceful thinking and relaxed energy.

Whether you want to improve your workout or gain better peace of mind, breathing is key. As you focus on your breathing today, let your breath initiate your movement and you will notice a beautiful relationship. You will notice it when you walk, when you dance, even when you reach for a glass. As air enters and exits your body, experience the rhythm and magic of this life sustaining system. Honor your body and practice honing the tools and power it provides. Just breathe.

Additional Sources:

Debbie Rosas’ 5 Stages Education

By: Abby Thompson

Photo by Nia Technique