What should restful breathing feel like?
A natural dilemma that I think all truth seekers come up upon when studying and exploring the inner workings of nature is what to do when you come across experts with differing opinions who have produced consistent results and what to do when their opinions differ from your own. This has often been the case for me with breathing and so I wanted to give you three simple consistencies that I’ve found over the years.
1. In Through the Nose
Our mouths were made for communicating and eating. Our noses were made for breathing. Unless you are working really hard at something physical, most of your breaths should enter and exit through your nostrils. This helps us to use the correct breathing muscles, it filters toxins and it adds gases to the air, which dilate your blood vessels and air passages. These things do not occur when you breathe through your mouth.
2. Low and Slow
Breathing should be effortless. There is no need to fill your lungs to their max capacity at every breath, not even when performing breath holds. For efficiency and physical stability, a correct breath should fill not only your lower belly, just above the hip crease but also the space behind and to the sides of your belly too. When this is done well, your torso looks like a cylinder (or a coke can). This should be effortless and without any strain. You want your breath to be low and slow. An interesting fact is that in Tai Chi contests, one of the criteria you are judged upon is if you can be seen to be breathing or not.
3. Adjust Your Breath and Adapt to Your Situation
It’s not always ideal to be calm, just take the Buddhist monk who was attacked by a leopard whilst meditating to understand why. Sometimes you need to heighten your state to match the changing environment and breathing is the remote control. Low and slow if the situation requires calm, expansive and fast if you need to be alert and react. We should learn and practice using our breath to shift our state as it is a skill which helps us to adapt to changing the environments and this ability to adapt is often what decides a success or failure.