Overview: This is part two of a series of posts on the impact of breathing on your mind and body. We designed the Neo to be powered by your breath - we believe it's the starting point for both a good session and self-care routine.
by Jamie Toth
When life becomes a cacophony of commitments and concerns it’s difficult to give ourselves space, even for just a moment.
Even for just one breath.
Taking a moment to appreciate our breath is a powerful way to reconnect to our humanity. There is nothing more essential to our health and wellbeing than our breath.
Each breath carries with it endless potentialities. Each breath is an act of alchemy, transforming our innermost spaces. Our breath is an action that’s inextricably linked to how our species defines our lives which are lived in the space between our first and last breaths.
17,000 times a day, we are given an opportunity to reconnect with our world through our breath.
While breath often happens without us, magic happens when we add our attention to it.
Take a moment and focus on your breath. Breath in through your nose and allow the belly to expand. Make sure you allow your lungs to fill from the bottom up, all the way. Exhale, slowly, for as many counts as you can.
The expansion you create with your muscles pulls in the air to fill the expanding void. The air passes through a succession of ever-narrowing passages and into the depths of our lungs. Our lungs take in about a liter of air per breath…and there are more air molecules in that one breath than there are the number of breaths in the entire atmosphere. Mind expanding, isn't it?
Giving space for a deep breath isn’t just about the lungs as a respiratory organ. The exchange of carbon dioxide for oxygen, a process called diffusion, happens at sites on tiny sacs called alveoli. These alveoli are so efficient that the gas exchange happens in less than a second. Approximately 480 million of these grape-like structures give our lungs the surface area of a racquetball court (~1000 ft2 or ~100 m2). In a very real sense, we are bigger inside than we are outside.
It’s important to make moments where we can facilitate these deep breaths – and not just for more oxygen exchange! Shallow breathing can lead to a variety of ailments. It can cause muscle fatigue – and not just in the muscles involved in breathing but throughout the body. The inadequate oxygen exchange that comes from shallow breathing can have serious impacts to the immune system. Shallow breathing can trigger stress responses both physically and emotionally. This continual stress trigger can lead to fatigue. The poor breathing patterns established through the day can also impact your ability to breathe at night.
Spending a moment focused on the breath gives mental space for the mind to settle, and physical space for the lungs to expand.
It feels like such a tiny thing – to make space in time for you to take a moment to breathe. That space which is bigger on the inside.
Take a breath!