by Carla Melucci Ardito
Learn How To Exhale
Working on extending your exhalations for as long as you comfortably can, is the first step in slowing down your breathing rate and increasing your lung capacity. There are muscles involved in full exhalations that need to be strengthened and these muscles massage your internal organs and stimulate a neuro-receptor that monitors and balances blood pressure. It is very important to learn how to exhale well.
The Inhale Will Take Care Of Itself
As you become more skillful at exhaling, you will begin to understand and become sensitive to, the subsequent mechanics of the automatic inhalation. Yes, the inhalation is automatic and will take care of itself; all you have to do is to learn how to let go. Notice I said ‘learn how to let go’? When it comes to optimum breathing, we indeed need to practice our letting go skills. I know we all think of letting go as effortless but it takes time to unwind after a long day and it takes skill to be able to connect to the feeling of releasing within our bodies. The degree to which this letting-go can happen is dependent upon the relaxation of our thoracic cavity. A deep and full breath is only possible when the muscles of our abdominal cavity and back-body are free from tension.
It has been my experience as a student and teacher of breathing that the ability to let go for a free-flowing breath, leads to the discovery and release from chronic tensions. None of us can feel the tensions that are with us 24/7. It is only in the releasing of these places within our bodies that we become aware of the holding. Releasing tension through free breathing has been the key to relieving the stress associated with everything from chronic digestive disorders to hypertension and heart disease.
Let’s all stop trying to ‘take’ big breaths and instead learn how to ‘receive’ full/deep breaths. At your next workout or yoga class when the instructor says, “take a deep breath” don’t try to tank up, instead extend your next exhalation and let your body breathe in by simply letting it happen. You will not only be on your way to improving your breathing, you may also find yourself able to do a few more push-ups or hold that yoga pose a bit longer than you thought your could.
Our bodies were designed to automatically draw in air, and that happens best when we learn how to exhale well.
How and Why does trauma affect our breathing?
We do not think ourselves through situations we feel our way through situations. When we experience anything in life that is so hurtful to us that we cannot bear to feel, this is trauma. The logical mind cannot comprehend what has occurred until our bodies have been allowed to feel. In fact, the root of the word ‘sensitive’ comes from the Latin ‘sensible’ The ancient humans knew that it is because of our ability to ‘sense’ that we are able to understand the experiences we are having in our lives. The breath functions on the waves of our emotions and so too does it stop flowing when we stop the flow of feelings.
What does it mean to “take a deep breath’? Has this phrase lost its meaning? Most people struggle to take a deep breath and it is futile to try for depth because depth can only come when one learns how to work with one’s body to allow and release. Effective breaths are multidirectional and all-encompassing.