If you’re not breathing, you’re not living. Literally.
And if you’re not breathing well; you’re not living as well as you could be.
If you pay attention to your breath, you can learn a lot about how you’re taking life in. The breath is an amazing instrument for reporting the state of your internal weather systems. Take a moment to close your eyes and observe your breath. How would you describe your current internal ‘weather’? Calm, warm sunny skies? High winds and thunder showers? Once you’ve answered the question, read on.
Your breath is the link between your conscious and unconscious mind.
Amazingly, by taking control of your breath you can exert a measure of control over the state of your mind and emotions – you can control the weather inside!
If you are living in a state of chronic stress, your breath is likely shallow, rapid and clipped. You can actually choose to use shallow rapid breathing to induce a state of stress and anxiety, shifting your nervous system into fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system dominance).
Go ahead, try it!
You don’t want to live your life breathing this way. When the sympathetic nervous system dominates, adrenaline goes surging through the blood stream overtaxing your systems, putting you on edge and impeding the body’s ability to repair itself.
Conversely, you can address states of stress and anxiety by breathing deeply into the belly. This down-regulates the nervous system (activating the parasympathetic nervous system) and stimulates the body’s relaxation response. When the parasympathetic nervous system dominates the body heals and repairs itself and the mental/emotional weather pattern is calm and still.
Breathe better; feel better; heal better; live better.
If we can choose how we breathe (and we can!), we should opt for deep, abdominal breathing in times of stress.
Watch our stress relief videos instantly.
Read how to breath away stress.
Read more about your diaphragm.
This makes me want to take a big belly breath! thanks for the reminder!
The quality of my breath and finding attention for that is always a useful reminder. Thanks
Quality of breath and jus beginning with state of my breath and having an awareness there is always a welcome reminder. Thank you
Great reminder Amanda!… it sounds so simple, just breathe, but so many people are not fully breathing…therefore not fully living. Also, I did not know this…”when the parasympathetic nervous system dominates the body heals and repairs itself and the mental/emotional weather pattern is calm and still”. So, thank you!
Beautiful reminder to breathe, surprising to hear from a yoga teacher, however I take comfort in always being a student first and foremost.
Ive always considered the breath as a bridge between my external self and internal self.
Thank you for this post! I teach breath awareness techniques to Cardiac patients and this article 100% supports what I’m trying to convey always…A little awareness on breath can go a long way. I’ve even had patients fall asleep in under 3 minutes! Watching them drop into their parasympathetic for perhaps the first time (in a long time) is so powerful. Just like you said “Breathe better; live better”
Thanks for this Amanda! I actually use abdominal breathing to help pacify my 18 month old boy, also to put him asleep!
As an RMT, I often hear my clients take a deep breath when they get on the table; an almost audible sigh. I think for many of them, it may be the first conscious breath they’ve taken all day. In our yoga practice, when in a challenging pose, it is often our breath that is forgotten. So too in our daily challenges. Amanda has a lovely way of describing the parasympathetic response as calm & still weather. In a world that ofttimes feels beyond our control, we have a built-in off switch we can tap into whenever, wherever we are.
Conscious breathing is such a basic and powerful tool.
I truly believe breath awareness and breathing techniques should be taught and practiced regularly at schools as we forget how to breathe like a baby.
Years ago I would be more anxious and stressed based on the everyday stress of life. The first thing I learned was to focus on the breath when I started mediation and that is why I love yoga. I remember CNN HLN recently reported the best thing for yoga in the United States was the use of long breathes, which mirrors the lovely quote in the article of “Amazingly, by taking control of your breath you can exert a measure of control over the state of your mind and emotions-you can control the weather inside!”
I love this reminder to breathe deeply to live well!
Definitely a great reminder in stressful times to breathe deeply to down regulate the nervous system.
” by taking control of your breath you can exert a measure of control over the state of your mind and emotions – you can control the weather inside!” I have found this to be true . Tuning into my breath helps me become more aware of my state of mind . Becoming aware my breathing pattern , helps me negotiate my way through daily life.
I couldn’t agree more – the power of breath influences the body in so many ways. I always remind my clients why posture directly influences how our bodies responds to threat. A poor breath pathway can literally prompt your body to become chronically stressed! It does not differentiate between a panic attack, a bear attack, or desk posture – the (fetal) posture is the common denominator, so the body responds the same. Learning to take charge of your breath and tune your breath pathway for deep, down regulating breaths will have a massive impact on stress and anxiety. I will… Read more »
So much important information! Breath brings awareness , energy , health and life to all our tissues .
This blog post is perfect. The way you describe how taking a moment to breath to find out how the weather is inside of us, truly resonated with me. I have come a long way now from suffering anxiety and panic attacks. On those moments, as panic flew over my body I remember breathing quicker and quicker firing up my sympathetic nervous system to the roof. Then, there was nothing I could do other than burst into tears and feeling absolutely terrified. I started practicing yoga to have more tools to be present, to be in the moment and get… Read more »
We can truly own our peace when we breath with awareness! It is amazing how quickly anxiety and nervousness shifts when we take a few conscious breaths. When my kids hurt themselves, I always remind them to take a big huge belly breaths and almost immediately the tears stop. What a powerful ‘tool’ we have available at all times!
I teach a free stress-relief class at my office once a month. On Friday I only had 1 student, which gave me a great opportunity to really OBSERVE how she was breathing. When I instructed her to breath into her belly, it was if her mind could not even make sense of it. I watched her whole rib cage elevate. Since yoga is such a big part of my life, it was very eye-opening to me to see how alien belly breathing is to non-yogis! I used the example that we were taught in class – to think about how… Read more »
I love this: “Your breath is the link between your conscious and unconscious mind.” Great explanation for how belly breathing affects the nervous system!
Simple yet profound advice. A good reminder of the amazing power of conscious breathing. Love the weather metaphor. We just need to be our own weatherman and know that whatever fronts are coming through we have a measure of control when we remember the power of the breath.
This is a must-read reminder for all of us. Our breath is such a powerful, portable and free addition to our self-care kit. Thank you Amanda for sharing this simple and effective way to chill out!
Well said, Amanda! After all these years in yoga I am just beginning to learn how anxiety and stress has impacted my breathing. Until recently, I hadn’t understood how I could heal in my body just by using my breath.
Thank you Amanda, I love the analogy of weather to breath and our internal state of mind. You’ve provided some great techniques for people to practice breath awareness and management.
I always enjoy reading and learning about the breath, and hearing other folk’s descriptions. Love the concept of your internal weather system. Change your breath, change the weather 😉 In addition to yoga, I am a Pilates instructor and this idea reminds me of Joseph Pilates who called his method an “internal shower.” Thanks for the post!
The breath is such a simple and powerful tool, yet so many people struggle with it and don’t know how to use it properly. It all starts with consciously paying attention and observing, especially in those stressful situations. We can make it better for ourselves always (and better for others too since conscious breath will help us respond versus react)!
Breath and breath control is something I am becoming more aware of and want to learn more about. I often attend to the breath of the clients I work with. Working with infants, their breathing patterns are and important source of information about how they are feeling and tolerating my interventions. I am often unaware of my own breath until I notice I have been holding my breath or need to sigh deeply. My stress and tension frequently shows up in my breath and breath control..holding my breath, quiet voice, clearing my throat. I need to learn to breath more… Read more »
So important to know! So many people don’t understand fight or flight vs rest and digest for their nervous system and how the breath can help!