Students - Breathe New Life into Learning

Guess what action you've performed more often than any other in your life? Is it eating? Sleeping? Crying? Laughing?

No! Give up? It's breathing! You've been breathing pretty much non-stop since you were born, with few exceptions.

So with all those years of practice you probably think you've figured out how to do it properly by now. Would it surprise you to learn that your breathing technique was probably better when you were an infant than it is today?

Watch the way a baby breathes when it's lying on its back. The baby's little abdomen moves up and down with each breath, going up when the baby breathes in, and down when the baby breathes out.

This action is caused by the diaphragm, a powerful muscle located below the lungs. It is the movement of the diaphragm that pumps air in and out of the lungs.

Take a few moments to observe the way you are breathing, right now, without changing the way you are doing it.

Notice which parts of your body move as you breathe. Which parts of your body are not moving? Is the top part of your chest filling up with air while your lower chest and abdomen remains motionless?

Where do you feel tense? Are your shoulders slumped over or caved in? Do your shoulders move up and down as you breathe in and out?

If your shoulders move up and down as you breathe, you are introducing a lot of unnecessary and ineffective tension into your body.

You are also wasting a lot of muscular effort performing an inefficient movement. Your shoulders are not designed to pump air in and out of your lungs.

If your breathing fills up and expands the top third of your lungs while the lower two-thirds do not move, you are not taking oxygen into your body very effectively. This is a bad habit that many adults have developed.

You can eventually end up over-expanding the air-sacs in the top third of your lungs, while those in the bottom part of your lungs never fill up properly.

Although we have wonderful breathing techniques as babies, we often develop bad habits and accumulate physical and emotional tensions as we grow older. These can eventually impede our breathing and our overall body and brain effectiveness.

Short changing your body on oxygen will hurt your brain more than any other organ. Remember that this three-pound organ can require as much as 20 to 25% of your body