BREATHE!!! For the most part, we don't speak in all caps at Roots. However, We are obligated to every time we see someone resisting their breath. We are always told to breathe in high stress situations. Those unintentional and those intentional. We can easily pinpoint the unintentional. Deadlines, arguments, embarrassment, etc. What about the intentional?
I am referring to exercise. Exercise is an intentional state of physical stress and requires constant breath to sustain the state of stress. No breath equals passing out!
Let’s break it down. A few really cool things start to happen when we breathe properly during exercise. The simple act of turning our focus on breathing creates awareness by connecting our Central Nervous System (CNS), and our Peripheral Nervous System(PNS). Simply speaking, our CNS is the system that activates our muscles using electrical signals. Our PNS is the electrical system which registers our senses. Taste, touch, sound, etc… Because these 2 systems are both in our brain, they can communicate.
By focusing our thoughts on breath and expanding our lungs to allow as much oxygen as possible, we immediately begin to feel (PNS) oxygen move into our lungs. This signals our CNS to relax the muscles around the diaphragm to allow a larger capacity of air. More oxygen leads to less work for our cardiovascular system. Also, reducing unnecessary muscular contraction reduces oxygen demand, which leads to less work for our cardiovascular system and a more effortless movement. Nerdy but cool!
Not really new to anyone. Most folks have known this without the application of science. But I pose an interesting question. How can breath be used to heal both physical and emotional trauma? And Can breath be used to provide happiness?
This one is quite an interesting and deep topic, but I will try to keep it as surface level as possible. Let’s start by connecting the intentional stress of exercise with the unintentional stress of daily life. We know breathing helps us with intentional physical trauma (exercise). We also know breathing helps with unintentional emotional trauma (fear, sadness, etc.). What about unintentional physical trauma coupled with unintentional emotional trauma? Say a car accident or even physical abuse. Each time we recall the memory of the unintentional stress, we feel a tension within us. A very unhealthy tension within our muscles. The memory from our mind will elicit a response from our CNS causing contraction within our muscles. A memory held in our muscles. A muscle than can be relaxed using communication between our CNS and PNS. A muscle which can be taught through repetition to stop contracting when a traumatic memory is recalled. Effectively reducing our physical response, which reduces pain. The breath decreases the pain response to the memory reducing the intensity of the memory. All by focusing our minds on breath.
Some call it meditation. Some call it Zen. I call it healing. It starts with Breath.
Intrigued by the article? Feel free to practice this Spine Mapping exercise.
Lie on you back with arms by your side on a flat surface. Relax your throat and breathe deep. Be sure you are not breathing through your nasal cavity(nose). Close your eyes and Imagine you have 4 corners on your torso. 1 at each shoulder and 1 at each hip. Breathe deeply and attempt to fill all 4 corners with air. Take 15 deep breaths.