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Just Breathe

Our very own Karen Weggler’s debut contribution to the Genesis Fertility ‘Wellness Wednesday’ blog.


Balance is our true nature. Repeat. Balance IS our true nature. We are comprised of 50 trillion cells all living together in the complex, cooperative community of our body; that body inherently has the capacity to be balanced.

Yet it often doesn’t feel balanced in the day to day, busy-ness of life.

Breath is a fabulous way to connect to your body, your centre, and the balance that is our true nature. It is also “the most accurate metaphor we have for the way we personally approach life, how we live our lives, and how we react to the inevitable changes that life brings us (Fahri ’96).

We take approximately 26,000 breaths a day. We breathe in, we breathe out. Sounds simple, yes? Yet many of us don’t breathe well, having adopted less than optimal strategies due to stress or poor postural habits, and this affects our body-mind in a plethora of ways. We need to reconnect with breath allowing it to become the friend it once was; one we know well, that we can take comfort in, and go to for support both emotionally and physically.

Becoming connected to the breath asks that we become inquisitive and bring a quality of attention to it that is investigative and curious. If openness and patience are your guides, with a few tools or strategies, you will begin to sense and feel in a way that is experiential. When we experience something differently – really feel and experience it in our bodies rather than just thinking it (though thinking it is important too) – we begin to change habits and develop new patterns that might better serve us. Because the way we breathe, or don’t breathe, is integrally linked to our bodies neurologically, cellularly and chemically, attending to it connects us with these systems in a healthier, meaningful way.

How did we become disassociated with our breath when it is such a natural happening? As I mentioned, for many folks, it’s posture. In our current day-to-day work lives, we sit countless hours in repetitive flexion patterns that leave us collapsed in the chest and overstretched though our back bodies. This affects the movement of our diaphragm and when our diaphragm isn’t working well, our breathing patterns change and not for the better! Restricted breathing patterns can also be attributed to years spent holding in our tummies. Simply put, constantly, rigidly holding your abdominals muscles is bad news on many fronts. Holding patterns like this actually weaken your abs. They restrict your diaphragm, and tighten all the muscles between the ribs, thus inhibiting the free-flowing expansion contraction of the ribcage as it rides the natural wave of lung volume as they expand and condense with breath.

To reconnect with breath, one of my favourite exercises is to lie down and imagine my body as a cylinder. If the muscular, boney structure of our bodies is our outer cylinder, the soft organs that give that cylinder structure is the inner one. Expanding and condensing through breath gives us volume and shape. It is our first experience of space and the feeling that we are three dimensional beings.

I suggest getting comfortable by lying down and sinking into the surface below you. Gravity is our friend. We live and move in relationship to the earth and her gravity. We depend on gravity for support so use it to your advantage whenever you can. Lying on your back is a perfect place to start meeting the earth and having it’s support meet you.

Allow the inhale to expand you in all directions, front and back, side to side, vertically and diagonally. Imagine a balloon that expands equally in all these directions as you inhale. As you exhale, the balloon condenses, coming into your centre and narrowing you gently after the widening your experienced with your inhale.

Many of my teachers encourage a connection to the soft organs because they tend to relate to volume and weight. These qualities can help the body and breathing pathways return to a more neutral, natural state. As our organ systems are intimately connected with the parasympathetic part of the nervous system, allowing a dialogue between the inner and outer cylinder systems alleviates tension patterns and anxiety. Finding ways to mitigate these states of being is something all of us in our busy lives can absolutely appreciate! Breath is the physiological support for all life’s processes. Finding ways to breathe easily affords us real freedom, and helps to quiet our busy minds, returning us to a more balanced, systematically-relational, healthy state.