As my regular students know all too well, talking about the breath is one of my favourite things.
But usually, when we think about the breath, we tend to think mainly about the inhale. For example, when someone says “Take a deep breath”, we focus on the in-breath.
However, my favourite part about breathing is the exhale. That deep, delicious out-breath. Mmmmmmm.
Why do I love it so much? Well, here are my three favourite things about breathing out…
1. Consciously breathing out will immediately reduce your stress levels.
Exhaling stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system – the one that helps you to ‘rest and digest’, which automatically dampens the sympathetic nervous system – the ‘fight or flight’ mode. When you feel stressed, having a few deep sighs is going to work wonders for your state of mind.
2. Breathing out eliminates carbon dioxide from your system.
Carbon dioxide is a toxin, and excess carbon dioxide in the lungs can, in some cases, lead to dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue or headaches. In more serious cases, it can lead to depression, coma, loss of consciousness, seizures or worse. When we feel tired or cranky, we rarely think that our breathing may be a factor (it’s much easier to blame another person or situation!), but next time you find yourself feeling like this, take a moment to sigh out and see if it makes a difference.
3. The more you breathe out, the more juicy, fresh, energising, invigorating oxygen you can breathe in.
Yes, in order to breathe in more efficiently, you first have to breathe out. The more you can empty your lungs, the more space there is in there to be filled by that yummy oxygen.. And oxygen is what energises you, it’s what gives you your vitality, your zing, your mojo! In yoga, we call this prana, or life-force (you may also hear it as qi or chi).
So, next time you’re feeling stressed, tired or cranky, try a few big sighs or gentle exhales and see what the effects are.