Have you performed a check on your lung capacity lately? Studies are showing that Americans are chronically short in this regard, due to factors and circumstances of their own creation: pollution, poor diet, poor posture, too much sitting, not enough exercise. What’s worse, awareness is down across the board as well, meaning that with every breath we are foregoing oxygen that can be used to help our cells function to their fullest. For many people stuck in an office, on a regular commute and then sitting on the couch to relax, it is reasonable to think they might go weeks without using their diaphragm, the main breathing muscle, instead using accessory muscles which capture enough oxygen to keep us going but little more. And just like any muscle, the less it is used, the less effective and capable it becomes.
So, let’s try something more innate: breathing slower. Take a deep breath and observe: did your belly expand? If so, good job: this is diaphragmatic breathing, the kind that fills your lungs with air by contracting the diaphragm. Exhale as fully as possible, so as to expel every last bit of CO2; not expelling it all is what leads to breathlesness and shallow breathing patterns. Keep breathing deeply, inhaling and filling the lungs from bottom to top- in this way, the cells are becoming fully saturated with oxygen, and exhaling fully. Try doing this whenever the thought strikes you, with a view to making it your permanent breathing style.
We are getting used to shallower breathing patterns that feel more like taking a sip rather than a whole gulp of air. Let’s break this chain and start breathing consciously and effectively, to optimize the function of the entire body and brain. We believe you will notice an uptick in productivity, sleep quality and quantity and mood, while simultaneously fighting off anxiety, inflammation and pain.
Dr. Albert Stabile, D.C.