For someone who’s pretty body aware and who teaches body/breath awareness, I’m surprised at how much I hold my breath.  Or, if I’m not holding it in, I’m taking little dinky baby breaths a lot of the time.

Do you do that, too?

How often do you check in and notice the quality of your breath?

I totally notice a correlation between my emotions and my breathing rhythms.  For example, when I’m stressed or anxious, my breath is shallow and rapid at best.  When I’m super chill and relaxed, like when I’m done meditating or I’m lying in bed reading at night, my breathing is longer, slower, richer.

So then what’s up with my shorty small breathing while I’m, say, washing the dishes or working at the computer?  

I think it might be remnants of my conditioning, holdovers of my previous default setting.  

Obviously, I haven’t always been so body/breath aware.  That honestly happened once I started my meditation practice and then was magnified when my yoga practice began.

Back in my previous life, I was a court reporter, taking down people’s testimony in depositions and in the courtroom.  That career was waayyyyy more intense than teaching yoga, that’s for sure.  I would absolutely unconsciously hold my breath while working in that industry.  

While going to court reporting school, I was a waitress.  I worked at a cute little cafe in South Coast Plaza in Southern California in the late ’80s to mid-’90s.  It was a busy place, and I can’t even imagine I’d had the tools and awareness to be mindful of slowing my breathing down while rushing around, slinging croissants and cafe au laits.  

However, if I go back even further, all the way back to my buck-tooth childhood days, it’s safe to say that my little perfectionist, talks-too-much self was probably breathing in dinky, tiny ways as well.

So what’s the fix?  If our birth presets are set to Shorty McShorterton breaths, is it even possible to change that default setting?

The good news is, yes.  No matter how long you’ve been on this planet, you can make the conscious decision to become more aware of your breathing patterns and habits.

The next time you’re relaxing in front of the TV, check your breathing depth.  Folding laundry?  Check your breathing.  Feeling cranky?  Depleted?  Excited?  You guessed it, check in on how you’re breathing.

If you find there’s just a tiny rise and fall of your upper chest, change that up into slow belly breathing.  

Chances are this will turn into a new lifelong practice, so don’t get upset with yourself if you have to remind yourself to slow your breathing down (for the 80th time today).  

Slow and low into the belly, this new breathing will singlehandedly (single-breathedly?) make a massive positive shift in your body, mind, and spirit.

Need someone to talk you through it?  Click here for a short video I did a while back.