Take a look around the next time when you go into a Starbucks. Everyone is seated at their table, looking at their phones. Their bodies are hunched over in the shape of a “C”.
Not good, says philosopher Brian Johnson. Our breath is a life force, he believes. This way of sitting constricts our breathing.
Healthy cells need oxygen. Oxygen is cell fuel. When we compress our bodies, we reduce the flow of oxygen into our cells. Doing so impacts our brain, which uses 20 percent of our body’s energy and oxygen.
The letter we want to emulate is “J”, Brian explains. We want to sit up, stretch out, and expand our diaphragm so that we can open our breathing.
Two years ago, I participated in Brian’s fantastic Heroic Coach Program. The year-long program culminates with a deep dive into what Brian calls the eight “Fundamentals”. For the next couple of months, on Friday, I’m writing about one of Brian’s fundamentals. Today, we explore “Breathe”.
The “perfect breath,” Brian explains, has three parts: the nose, the belly, and the exhale.
Step one is to breathe through our nose. “Our mouth is for eating; our nose is for breathing,” Brian explains. Breathing through our nose filters out contaminants, humidifies, and naturally calms us down.
When should we breathe through our nose? All day. Every day.
And, all night. Brian also encourages us to focus on breathing through our nose while sleeping. Which has the added benefit of addressing our snoring.
Step two is to breathe all the way down into our belly. We want nice long breaths. Not short, constricted ones.
Step three is to exhale through our nose slightly longer than our inhale. We want to finish our breathing strong.
Six beats inhale. Hold one beat. Exhale eight beats.
The goal is nice, calm, light, even, flowing, relaxed breathing into our diaphragm.
Breathe through our nose, into our belly, and then exhale through our nose, slightly longer than our inhale.
Brian suggests we notice our breathing throughout the day – while driving, walking, and exercising. We might even put our phone away, sit up straight, and practice while sitting at Starbucks.
More next week!
Reflection: How often do I pay attention to my breathing? Do I naturally breathe according to Brian’s three steps?
Action: Be intentional about paying attention to my breathing three times today.