We inhale + exhale approximately 20,000 times per day. With up to ten muscles that can be utilized for inhalation + eight for forced exhalation, the breath has powerful effects on the physical, emotional + mental planes.
The ancients connected with the breath more closely as the breath of life, or the supreme life force: the waves that ride back + forth, connecting us with the universe. If you’ve ever been stressed or anxious, the first thing that deserts you is the breath, your chest tightens + as the lack of oxygen hits your body; your anxiety increases. If I think back to times of stress where someone has told me to, ‘Just breathe’ – it was the last thing my overactive mind + nervous system wanted to hear, but it was probably the best thing I could have done for myself.
Breath can be a gauge of life force + it is the only autonomous bodily function that we can control. The breath moves through our body from birth until death, but it often becomes shallower over time. This tends to be the default, unless we consciously shift it. With so much tied up in our breath – and the simple gift of being able to work with this most potent of autonomic functions – it’s worth exploring the benefits of rethinking how we breathe.