Just Breathe

Show me a good mouser, and I’ll show you a cat with bad breath. – Garfield

We take about 20,000 breaths a day. It’s such a natural thing that most of the time, we don’t give much thought to it – we just do it. And yet, many of us don’t know how to breathe properly.

Incorrect breathing can cause tension, exhaustion, and vocal strain. Most people are shallow breathers, using only the top portion of their lungs, thus causing the body to miss out on the full benefits of a deep breath. Deep breathing raises levels of blood oxygen and promotes health in ways ranging from stimulating the digestive process to improving fitness and mental performance.

Cats know naturally how to breathe correctly. Unless a cat is sick, his normal breath is smooth, even and unrestrained. The normal respiratory rate for cats is between 20 and 30 breaths a minute. The normal respiratory rate for humans is between 15 and 20 breaths, but most humans breathe much faster because they take more shallow breaths.

On a side note, you can’t accurately count your own repiratory rate, because as soon as you start focusing on counting, you’ll inevitably slow down. You can ask someone else to count for you IF you’re not aware that this is happening or while you’re sleeping.

By becoming aware of your breath, you can turn breathing into a tool to become more mindful, relaxed and ultimately improve your health.

I particularly like the three breathing exercises Dr. Andrew Weill offers on his website: Stimulating Breath, Relaxing Breath, and Counting Breath. All three are a great way to start becoming more mindful of your breath, and they help you achieve a more relaxed and peaceful state of mind.

The next time you feel stressed, rushed, or anxious, remind yourself to breathe. You’ll find that a deep breath can gently shift your energy.

Do you use breath as a tool to help you relax or shift your energy? Share your stories!

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