Empty your lungs.

We barely ever utilise the full capacity of out lungs, even though we aught to.

I first realised this in the warm-up of a voice acting class. To start, the tutor had everyone take a deep breath in through their nose. Just as we thought we were reaching limit of our inhale, instead of saying and out through your mouth, he said;

Keep breathing in.

.

And in some more.

.

.

Inhale until you can’t anymore.

.

Now hold.

.

.

.

And in some more.

Our lungs can take in way more air than we think they can.

Divers and opera singers take advantage of this every day, and while we might not remember, at some point we did too.

Have you ever payed attention to how a toddler breathes?

Next time you see one, watch their little belly bloat slowly as they inhale, pause, then contract all the way as they breathe out.

This type of breathing goes by different names, and is something we should all consider daily.

Some simply call it belly breathing.

Medically it’s often referred to as diaphragmatic breathing (the diaphragm being the involuntary muscle at the bottom of the lungs which pushes against them when you exhale).

It also gets called abdominal breathing because while we have no direct control over our diaphragms, tensing our abdominal muscles gives us some indirect control over the muscle. As our abs contract, our diaphragm pushes against our lungs and squeezes more air out than we could otherwise.

Whatever we call it, somewhere along the line most of us grew out of breathing properly.

Why does this matter?

Because breathing properly reduces stress, slows the heartbeat, can stabilise blood pressure, and is easy to do.

Our posture has a huge impact on our ability to breathe properly. And it’s not good news those who work from a desk.

Lung capacity and respiratory flow are negatively impacted by slumped postures, as well as sitting down when compared with standing.

This explains why good posture is so important to most breath focussed meditation practices, especially those which require a capacity limiting seated position.

We come into this world with only so many breaths. We can choose to take them quickly and live a short life, or take them slowly and live a long one.

Ancient Yogis, apparently.

The acting tutor used the same trick when it was time for the class to exhale. The exhale is the easiest part of the breath to focus on if you want to test the limits of your own lung capacity.

Try it out now;

Breathe out through your mouth.

.

Keep going.

.

.

Breathe out until you can’t anymore.

.

.

Hold.

.

Breathe out a little bit more.

.

Contract your abdomen.

.

And more.

.

.

Push out any stale air you can find trapped in your belly.

.

Out a tiny bit more.

.

Until there’s really nothing left in there.

.

.

.

And in through your nose.

If for no other reason, you should do this from time to time just because it feels good.

We did this over and over, each time making small postural changes which made space for a little more air.

To start getting a feel for this, next time you take a deep breath, don’t focus on sitting up straight. Don’t focus on your spine. And definitely don’t imagine that you’re filling your chest, because that’s not where your lungs are.

The large portion of our lungs exist below our ribcage, so we need to imagine breathing lower.

To try this, close your eyes and try to direct your breath somewhere below your pelvis. Breathe to your tailbone, breathe to your groin, breathe to your butthole, it doesn’t matter. Just focus on filling every inch of space you can find or make… Then breathe in a little more.

If you want to learn more about breathing properly from an expert in the field, check out this interactive TEDx talk by Belisa Vranich.

Breathe well, friends! All the way to your buttholes.

3 thoughts on “Empty your lungs.

  1. You could definitely see your skills within the work you write.
    The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not
    afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

    Like

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