How we breathe

Many of my clients and patients confess not thinking about their breath until they have to pay attention to it, usually when they feel sick. Illnesses like asthma and Covid-19, the flu and COPD force our attention back to the breath, but the breath affects so much more, whether we notice it or not. How we breathe affects our internal organs, our muscles, energy levels, and even our emotions. So, let’s take a brief moment to learn the basics of how we breathe…

In a nutshell, when we breathe in, oxygen flows through our trachea all the way down to our lungs, which have little air sacs (alveoli) which are covered with a net of tiny blood vessels. Oxygen flows from the alveoli to the blood vessels, then the red blood cells distribute it throughout the body. Carbon dioxide, the residue of this exchange, is eliminated from the body when we exhale.

Our lungs expand when we inhale and contract when we exhale. The diaphragm, a muscle located underneath the lungs (by the bottom of the ribcage), moves up and down with each exhalation and inhalation we take. When the diaphragm moves down, it provides a nice massage to the organs located in the abdominal area. When it moves up, it massages the heart.

This is just a brief summary of what takes place when we breathe, but a lot more happens during this wonderful process. I invite you to take a moment to visualize how you breathe and pay your respects to the process that keeps you alive.