How often in a day, do you notice your breath? The inhale and exhale - how deep, how shallow or even notice it at all?
It is said that the average human breathes 17,280 to 23,040 times a day - this is around 12 to 16 breaths per minute (other factors, such as exercise and vigorous physical activity - result in more breaths per day*. Which is kind of crazy to think about considering we don't even notice we are doing it (a lot like blinking - which has very high numbers associated to it).
So why is it that we don't spend more time focusing on our breath? For starters, it's keeping us alive. It also helps with controlling our emotions e.g. Take a deep breath and count to 10 when feeling angry - it is important and also wildly neglected, we often let our 'flight or fight'** mode take over.
It's not all doom and gloom - mindfulness is spoken about more freely and recognised within society. Modem technology makes it easier to have the latest meditation and mindful apps at our finger tips, they steer us in the right direction to take time out and do what we spend 17,280+ times a day doing - breathe.
At the start of my yoga classes, I spend time focusing on the breathe - deepening the inhale and extending the exhale - filling the lungs to their full capacity (and then a tiny bit more), holding and ever so slowly releasing the breath to completely empty the lungs - a favourite of mine is '4-7-8' breathing***. This encourages fresh blood flow round the body, great for slowing the heart rate and calming the mind (perfect for just before bed). I often find the students relax to the point where some will fall asleep and many realise that they haven't been using their lungs to their full capacity and shallow breathe their way through their week.
Breathing also reminds us to live in the now, to stop, relax and breathe. Living in the moment encourages us to not reflect on the past, worry about the future, but to take in the now and just breathe.
So what are you waiting for? Take a few moments to yourself now and fill your lungs all the way with clean fresh breath.