Breathing is often taken for granted. Honestly, how many of you consciously breathe? Or did before you were introduced to better breathing techniques? It is obvious that we need to breathe to live, but what are you breathing? And how should one breath?
If you live in a big city like Los Angeles then you probably understand why it’s not so healthy to go outside and take in some deep breaths. The air there is not so fresh. Car, industry, and unfortunately, the forest fires are also hazardous to our health (I say unfortunately as it is primarily awful that our forests burn, that animals lose their habitats, and when it gets worse, it destroys peoples homes and takes lives). There are no people more deserving of a trip to the countryside than those who live in high populous, highly polluted cities. Best place to go? The mountains! The higher you go, the cleaner the air. Mountain climbing, hill walking, trekking - these are all forms of exercise that need time and training. When you go the first time (because you will!) don’t overdo it. Go around the base of the mountain, or set your watch to turn around after an hour. Those two hours in the fresh mountain air is greatly beneficial for your lung capacity and blood circulation. If you went every weekend, or even once a month, you will be able to progress so much until one Christmas (or birthday) you will find yourself surrounded by hiking gifts. It is a pleasant way to exercise, accessible for all ages (ok, depending on your age and ability, some treks might be inadvisable), and is possible for families. Notably, choose with care where you go, plan your walk/hike in advance, and always tell someone where you are going and your estimated time of return - safety, safety, safety!
If you are still concerned for your health while living in a smoggy city, buy a mask. Your health is more important than how it looks, and you never know, you could start a trend! They are quite popular in China! Saying that though, a basic dust mask will not suffice, so don’t sacrifice your image for something inutile.
Have you ever watch a period drama with the ladies constantly fainting? Or consigned to their rooms because of their “nervous disposition”? Firstly the fainting can be accorded to those damned corsets that fashion imposed on the then lesser sex. How was one expected to breathe properly with their lungs literally squashed? An absolute ridiculous fashion statement. Thankfully the now equal sex isn’t compelled to wear any constricting attire, but nerves are still unflagging (in fact, for both sexes). Careers, family, social anxieties, mental dispositions, how a shoelace is tied (or not tied), are all detonators of anxiety and rapidity of breath. Anxiety is a huge factor in how someone lives their day, and if you don’t suffer from it, then it is often difficult to understand. Nervousness, fear, anxiousness, lack of confidence, confusion, anger, sadness - we could list out much more here. You may have anxiety and not even know! Just sign it off as a mood swing.
Regardless if you know or not, try out this breathing exercise the next time you are in an unfavorable situation where your emotions hijack your usual self.
This is called Box Breathing. Practice this in a comfortable place, taking heed of your posture, and when a time obliges it, do it (before walking into a social event, doing your tax returns, watching the news, etc)
Inhale for 4 seconds,
Hold your breath for 4 seconds,
Exhale for 4 seconds, and
Always on a scale of 4 seconds: In, Hold, Out. Always exhale out fully before starting, and try to exhale through your mouth and breath in through your nose. Try it and see if it works!
Sleeplessness & Insomnia:
If you can fall asleep immediately upon entering your bed and remain asleep for the full required 8 hours then I take off my hat to you. A replenishing sleep is oftener and oftener difficult to achieve without the aid of drugs or supplements or oils or however many sheep there are in a field. There is just too much to worry about in today's world, the flashing lights of our always-at-hand devices not helping. Whether you are a city slicker or an everyday farmer, there are elements that keep us awake, each one as (seemingly) important as it is unique. There is another possible solution to lull you into a profound slumber and that is, yes you got it, although quite obvious given the context of this blog, breathing!
Be a shepherd no longer and take command of your hibernation by trying out this breathing exercise:
This is the 4-7-8 exercise:
Breath out fully;
Inhale for 4 seconds;
Keep it for 7 seconds,
Exhale for 8 seconds, and
Repeat (In 4, Keep 7, Exhale 8)
When you start, do it for 4 breaths, not longer, but after time and repetition bring it up to about 8 breaths. You want to train your lungs, to build up their capacity. And don’t do this expressly before going to bed. Practice throughout the day when you find the time, but not in a situation where you will need to be on top form because this technique might just relax you that little bit too much.
Get breathing more! With fresher air and using a technique to your favor. Don’t take your breathing for granted, savor it and use it to your best advantage. Check out our blog "Breathing Exercises to Slow Down" if you care to read more.