One of the basic instructions for breathing well is to move no faster than you can comfortably breathe through your nose. Sounds easy enough but I’ve been working with it for years.
I frequently walk briskly, and when I’m in my body and conscious, I will notice I’m straining. I’m not talking about an exercise walk. I’m talking about moving across my living room to get a tissue. Even if I have all the time in the world, it’s just my habit to go fast. It’s internally driven, a habit I’m breaking.
When I’m doing my breathing exercises, if I get up to answer the phone or use the bathroom, my control pause sometimes slips five or more seconds upon my return!
I really saw how crazy this was this summer, when I spent a week at Girl Scout Family Camp. On the way to the stables to pick up my daughter after her horseback ride for lunch, I was trying to find a consistent, comfortable pace and it wasn’t coming easy for some reason.
When I met up with my daughter and a few other families, I realized I felt really comfortable walking at these other women’s pace that was even slower than the reduced pace I had chosen before to “practice”. I would say that they were sauntering. I loved it.
Scientific research has shown that people with an asthma history like me, as well as other conditions caused by chronic hidden hyperventilation like snoring and anxiousness, breathe twice as much air as we need before breathing retraining. So it would make sense that we’re moving faster too.
One way I’ve found to think about slowing down in a way that makes me happy is to ground myself in my femininity when I move, feel my hips swing. That takes me to another dimension. Everything slows down and becomes more sensual and restorative.
What I really want to express is that these long-term habits do not go away in a weekend, or sometimes even a year. Breathing comfortably, easily and openly no matter what is going on can be a lifetime practice for those of us with respiratory conditions. It’s a window on our state of being in the moment.