Did you know babies can instinctively swim from their first second out of the womb? It’s true, and I highly recommend dipping your toe into the hundreds of adorable online videos demonstrating it. When underwater, they naturally know to hold their breath, and on the surface, they breathe deeply and fully, utilizing their bodies to the fullest capacity. When you notice a baby’s breath, it is obvious to see their relaxed, expansive, and unrestrained nature. It’s the way we are all meant to breathe. Yet, for us slightly larger humans, that skill of deep breathing disappears, overshadowed by stress and worries. The perfection of the present moment is easily lost amongst a sea of distractions. As it turns out, babies are the masters of the key to wellness. The quickest and easiest path to health is through returning to our Baby Bliss: through deep breathing, and complete surrender to the present moment. This is the ultimate stress antidote.
Stress is a natural part of life. we were created with fight and flight systems for a reason: as a defense mechanism in emergency situations. However, once the stressors of life build atop our traumas, guilt, shame, and all the other baggage we carry along as defective armor, our default pattern of breathing changes along with our posture. Shallow breathing becomes the new normal.
This affects us greatly, in ways most of us are unaware of. See for yourself by doing a little experiment. Sit as if after a long, tenuous day at work. Hunch your back, bring your shoulders up towards your ears in tension, and see how your breathing is affected. Notice how you feel. Now, try something completely different. Deep Yogic Breathing. Sit in a way that provides a blockage free airway, with an erect spine, and relaxed shoulders. If you are seated on the ground, feel free to give yourself some height by sitting on a cushion or pillow to increase your comfort. However, you can do this anywhere, anytime with no props necessary. You can even reap the benefits from breathing this way while lying down!
- Place your hands on your stomach, cradling your navel. Breathe deeply into your belly, feeling it expand like a balloon until your hands separate. As you exhale, the balloon belly deflates, and your hands return to their original starting position. Smoothly inhale, smoothly exhale. Allow your breath to be natural, just deeper than normal. You are re-training yourself by going back to the basics. Continue this deep belly breathing for 20 rounds or so, until you’re ready to move onto the next stage. This may be difficult or frustrating at first. It’s ok and completely normal! Remember to be kind and patient with yourself, as you are working through rewiring an acquired habit which no longer serves you.
- In between rounds, return to normal breath, and witness any changes.
- Move your hands up to your lower ribs. Continue your deep belly breathing, but once your balloon belly is inflated, allow the breath to move up into your ribs, feeling your hands separate again. As you exhale, retrace the inhalation process, feeling the ribs deflate, followed by the belly. Don’t overthink the exhale, just let it flow. Continue this for another 20 rounds or so, ensuring that your body is as relaxed as possible. The whole purpose is to return to your natural rhythm. During the last few rounds, feel free to suspend your breath at the top of the inhale, relax, and enjoy the stillness.
- Return to normal breath, and witness how you feel.
- Move your fingers up to gently cradle your collarbones. Continue the previous round of breath, inflating the belly first, then the ribs, and finally moving all the way up into the collarbones, feeling your fingers separate at the top of the breath. Envision filling your torso with vital oxygen starting from the bottom, and working all the way up through the spine. Exhale smoothly out the same way the breath came in, from the collarbones, through the ribs, and finally out from the belly. Allow this to be one smooth flow. Continue this full yogic breath for twenty more rounds. Close your eyes, and enjoy the ride.
- Enjoy the peaceful high. Bask in it as long as possible. Know this feeling is easily accessible anytime. It is your natural state.
Deep yogic breathing is a perfect gateway back into our original state of “blissed-out baby.” It is always a good time to re-visit this magical breath, but some of my favorite times are: When faced with a problem or tough decision, in search of creative inspiration, or when stress is high.
Imagine how different life would be if we all breathed like babies?! The way we were born to breathe.
Story by: Dia Michelle
Dia Smith is a renaissance woman with a background in Psychology and Yoga. She’s currently based in Bali, dancing with the fireflies. Check out more from her at: gypsysoultonic.com ✨
photo by: Kai Mata