While the holiday season is a time of family, friends, and celebration—it is also one of the most stressful times of the year.  Between colder weather, crammed stores, holiday shopping, lots of parties and other social engagements, and the stress of upholding expectations or creating lasting traditions on top of all our normal responsibilities; it is no wonder more people seem to get sick and worn-out during this month than any other.

For today’s post I wanted to dedicate a little cyber-space to something that has helped me overcome stressful situations while also providing vitality and peace.  You may have heard of it before.  It’s called: Breathing Deeply.

Ah yes, that wonderfully automatic process that we far too often take for granted.  Luckily, spending some conscious time tuning into our breath can create a world of change for our bodies.

And while some of you may think you don’t have time to “just breathe,” I promise that if you will dedicate a few minutes each day to focus on your breath that you will feel better physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

To encourage a daily practice, here are ten reason to breathe deeply with quotes from some of my favorite books.

1. Breathing deeply cleanses the blood.

The quality of the blood depends largely upon its proper oxygenation in the lungs, and if it is under-oxygenated it becomes poor in quality and laden with all sorts of impurities, and the system suffers from lack of nourishment, and often becomes actually poisoned by the waste products reminding un-eliminated in the blood.  As the entire body, every organ and every part, is dependent upon the blood for nourishment, impure blood must have a serious effect upon the entire system. – Yogi Ramacharaka

2. Breathing deeply through the nose filters the air naturally.

Many of the diseases to which civilized man is subject are undoubtedly caused by the common habit of mouth-breathing.  The organs of respiration have their only protective apparatus, filter, or dust catcher, in the nostrils.  When the breath is taken through the mouth, there is nothing from mouth to lungs to strain the air, or to catch the dust and other foreign matter in the air.  – Yogi Ramacharaka

10 reasons for breathing deeply

3. Breathing deeply can change our posture, emotional well being, and mental outlook for the better.

Good—or poor—breathing habits affect every aspect of our bodies’ functioning, from our mental state to our digestive efficiency.  Breathing is central to our posture and to the way we move.  It has huge influence on our appearance, health, mental outlook, emotional resilience, and capacity to manage stress.  Dysfunctional breathing is so rampant in Western culture that is amounts to an epidemic.  -Mary Bond

4. Breathing deeply massages the heart.

Expansion and contraction of your lungs massages your heart as you breathe.  At the same time, your diaphragm pulls and pushes on your heart from below, assisting blood flow.  When your spine is extended by your use of good breathing mechanics, the fascial envelope around the heart stretches, contributing to the balance of pressures around this essential organ.  Healthy posture and breathing actually support your heart.  -Mary Bond

10 reasons for breathing deeply.

5. Breathing deeply becomes a whole body experience.

Because your lungs and breathing muscles have fascial connections (connective tissue) to every other part of your body, the expansion and contraction of breathing occurs everywhere.  Your forearms, fingers, neck, thighs, and ankles all swell and shrink. -Mary Bond

6. Breathing deeply can improve digestion.

Mouth breathers tend to inhale while eating and drinking.  If you notice yourself gulping air along with your orange juice, you need to set aside some mealtimes during which you pay attention to breathing.  Open your mouth to eat and drink during the pause after an exhalation.  Inhale after you’ve swallowed the liquid.  Eating practice will slow down your eating as well as your breathing.  The cultivation of relaxed eating habits interrupts the habit of over breathing and contributes to better digestion as well.  -Mary Bond

7. Breathing deeply helps us reach our potential well-being.

Research has shown that most people use only a small fraction of their breathing potential.  Restricted breathing decreases the flow of oxygen to the body.  By breathing more efficiently you will experiences a new sense of well-being with improved zest and vitality.  And for you, parents: You will also become a more calming presence for your baby.  -Beverly Stokes

8. Breathing deeply will help with muscle tension and pain.

Holding the breath is one of the most common breathing problems.  This often occurs when people are tense, concentrating, or trying to hear what someone is saying. -Beverly Stokes

9. Breathing deeply unlocks our movement potential.

As the first developmental pattern in the infant, breathing is the foundation, a ground base, for all other patterns which follow.  Wherever the breathing is blocked in the body, future patterns will be blocked; wherever the breathing is free, the future pattern will develop efficiently.  -Peggy Hackney

10. Breathing deeply is the first step toward empathy.

Conscious cultivation of breath is recognized in many cultures to be an important part of attuning to a spiritual connection between the individuals and the universe.  Healing of the Body-Mind is directly connected with restoring full function respiration. -Peggy Hackney

10 reasons to breathe deeply

Want to learn more about the power of breath? Check out the books that contain these gems:

1. The Science of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka
2. The New Rules of Posture by Mary Bond
3. Amazing Babies by Beverly STokes
4. Making Connections by Peggy Hackney