Look at the dog in the picture on the right. Can you notice his excitement of visiting a new place for the first time?
This is how our first days at work were. Full of happiness and excitement. We glanced out of the window and observed every building, side path, or car that passed us by. That happened with you too, right?!
Now tell me, did you do the same things this morning too? Can you tell me if there was a new florist shop on your way? Your answer would most likely be an unsure yes or no.
That’s because things that we do everyday happen to become a part of our routine. Our brain has to draw back attention from these trivial things so it can be put to better use.
Breathing is also one such activity. If you are a normal healthy person, the only time you ever needed to breathe consciously was the day you were born or the situations where you begin to panic and pant. Isn’t it? Isn’t that the only time we notice our breathing, even though we breathe 18 times every minute?!
Breathing is the fundamental to our living. Then, why only very few of us acknowledge its importance?
Here, I’d like to share what I learnt from the Academy award winning movie, The King’s Speech.
Breathing lessons from King George VI
Psychological reason to breathe Right
If you have watched this movie, you must have observed how the struggle to speak fluently and not stammer, made the king more and more defensive. He is terrified to speak publicly and closed to new techniques of working upon his speech. But things begin to change when his speech evaluator teaches him to pause and breathe.
Pausing to take in a breath slows you down and grounds you. It soothes your nervous system. And this effect on nervous system can be explained through science!
Biological reason to breathe Right
Our nervous system has two parts – one that checks on everyday activities (Parasympathetic) and another that is activated only in times of stress (Sympathetic).
The life we live these days doesn’t allow our “stress specific” nervous system to shut down. And we continue feeling stressed. This will become clearer in the next section.
Angel and Evil – the two sides of breathing
Which one of the two, Ron Weasley or Remy, do you think are taking a shorter breath?
Ron, right?! Because he is in shock.
Philosophical reason to breathe Right
You see our actions and our body dominates our breath. How we feel dominates our breath. For example, when you are relaxed, you have longer and deeper breaths. When you are scared or stressed, you breath fast and shallow. Gradually, our body learns this association and then, that’s when the tables are turned!
How you breathe, fast or long, deep or shallow, begins to dominate how you feel. Even if you are not under stress, your breath will make your body and mind feel so.
And this is exactly what yoga classes do to you. I would not deny the fact that physical exercise has a deep influence over your feelings, but its mainly the breath that helps. While concentrating your attention to breath, you consciously make an effort to live in the moment, be slow, and attempt to reverse your state of mind. That’s why you feel so happy and calm after a yoga session.
Read this book, “Breath in Action”, and you will find out that breathing right has benefits far reaching than just mental stimulation and confidence. It can help you have even a better digestion!
Putting things in action
So, the breathing technique to go for is Abdominal Breathing. There are three reasons why I suggest this one.
- The lowest part of the lungs have the blood that is the richest for oxygen. And this is medically proven true.
- This breathing takes off pressure from your shoulders and chest and upper back to your core muscles around your abdomen and lower back. Thus strengthening it and elevating your resilience to physical discomfort.
- It’s easiest and can be done anywhere, anytime.
Now, if you want to be calm, stay in control of things, deliver a speech, have a good digestive system, get rid of bad posture, boost your immunity or relieve yourself of headaches, this is what I want you to do – Breathe, in the manner I’d just tell you.
- Put one hand on your stomach and another on your chest. Breathe from your nose in such a way that your hands go back and forth slowly.
- For awkward situations where the above wouldn’t work, make use of the drawing on a well technique. Feel like you are drawing your breath deep from inside and exhale slowly.
It will take some conscious effort from your side, but with time you will be able to re-train your body’s muscles and automatic system to listen to you.
Last Updated: Aug 14th, 2014
Next Scheduled Update: Oct 14th, 2014