How many breaths do you take a day?

Carol Segal yoga teacher in Howick KZN

The way you breathe dictates the way you live. The amount of breaths you take a day, remain constant, yet the boundless breath that engages the whole of your being is seldom engaged. So, how many breaths do you take a day ? Research suggests that the average, healthy adult takes between 20 000 to 22 000 breaths a day. How many of those breaths do you notice? How many of those breaths do you use? to change your emotional state of being or to ignite energy in your body. If you were given R20 000 a day, what would you do with the money? Would you notice it? Would you use it?

Among the land-bound vertebrates, the tortoise is recorded as being one of those that lives the longest. Tortoises can live for up to 250 years. Their secret? They breath slowly. If you think of the sagacious tortoise, Master Oogway, from the children’s movie Kung Fu Panda, he talks, walks and does just about everything slowly. He is the omniscient wise master. He lives to a ripe old age and when his death finally arrives the film depicts it as a beautiful diffusion of his soul into everything. I am unsure if all tortoises are such wise meditators, but I do know they live a long, fruitful and slow life. Breathing slowly.

To illustrate the difference in simple numbers:

Tortoise – 3-4 breaths a minute – slow breathing – longevity – 250 years

Human – 14-15breaths a minute – rapid breathing – longevity – 80 years or less

Our first inspiration marks our arrival on the planet and our last expiration closes the door on this life as we know it. Breathwork is fast becoming a “trend” as we crawl out of the Covid pandemic and learn to create new ways of breathing and being. When you learn to change the way you breathe, you invest those 22 000 inhales and exhales, your life will change. Utilizing a full, harmonious breathing rhythm allows one to gain maximum benefit from the simple act of exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide. But don’t believe me, try it. Pause for a moment. Pause and become fully present in just one breath.

Sit or stand up straight in such a way that the rib cage has sufficient space to expand. Become aware of the muscles that support your breathing – the intercostal muscles between the ribs and and the diaphragm (that’s the dome shaped muscle that supports your inhalation and exhalation). Now take a slow steady smooth breath in. Try to draw the breath in through both nostrils, as if it were a magical substance that you are very carefully drawing into your body. Take your time. Once you feel as if the lungs have reached their full capacity, pause, feel what if feels like to be plump with breath. Now let that breath go, gently, slowly allow the carbon dioxide to leave the body . How do you feel ?

The human respiratory system is designed in such a way that we do not need to consciously control it. However, when you do become conscious of how it works for you, you will be exhilarated to discover that the secret to your wellbeing is just beneath your nostrils. When you slow down breathing, you switch into the parasympathetic nervous system. This nervous system activates the relaxation response in your body, allows the heart rate to slow down, lowers your blood pressure and generally just makes you feel groovy. You get more or less 22 000 opportunities a day to switch on this chemical change in the body.

The in breath, a wave of energy moving in and the outbreath, a wave receding and taking with it all the stress and muscular tension that does not serve you. Just like the waves of the ocean, your breath is constant, always present , always there to nourish and uplift you. Breath in, Breath out .

Stretch into your breath and feel the life force bringing you into a place of presence. Breathing allows you to become part of everything and everything to become a part of you. The planet breathes, you breathe. All is connected. When you take a deep breath, it should feel as if you are riding the wave of an ocean, allow it . Breath is a very accurate barometer of your emotions and when you pay attention, breath can be used to change emotions.

I love the ocean, but when I am unable to be there, I try to remember the ocean of breath that is here everyday, all the time, to support my well being and allowing my body to feel like she can cope no matter what. I affirm that all beings can learn to change the way they participate in the cosmic banquet of life. I believe we all can feel better , just by breathing. Allow breath to be your guide. Invest 22 000 chances a day to enhance your living and boost your energy. Become like a tortoise.