What Can Your Breath Tell You?

Notice your inhales, your exhales. Do you breathe from you chest or your belly? Our breath or breathing pattern can offer a lot of information and insight, when we take the time to listen within.

Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome back to Inner Warmup where your inner work begins. My name is Taylor Elyse Morrison, I'm the founder of Inner Workout and you as always are our expert guest. Thanks for being here. You know I like to do a little something before we get into the interview. If you've seen the episode title, you know we're talking about breath today. So I thought we'd do something a little breath and movement based. So go ahead and put your hands at your side. Inhale, bring your hands up to the sky. Exhale, slowly let your arms come back down to your side. Take that a few more times. Inhale, bring those arms up, feel that stretch. Exhale, let them float down. One more inhale...and exhale. Whew, I'm here, I'm present. I did a lot of shoulder work in my workout today and that arms up and down stuff, I didn't realize how much I needed that stretch. Well, thanks for being here.

The question I've got for you for today's interview is, what can your breath tell you? What can your breath tell you? For me, and for most people, it's a lot. It's one of those ways that your body is having a conversation with you, that you can be totally unaware of without a little bit of insight, and training. I played flute growing up and I also was on an off inquires. And so I learned a little bit about the mechanisms of how breath moves through your body. But it wasn't until college for me when I really started looking at breath as more of a regulatory tool. It was actually my first experience in therapy. And I was doing biofeedback therapy, where I worked with this therapist to figure out like, what rate of breath worked really well for me in terms of calming me and stabilizing me, and then I would have to like play these video games and things that would get your heart rate up. And then try using that breathing cadence to keep me from getting too anxious, even as I was doing something that could easily ratchet up my anxiety. And ever since then, I've been so curious about breath. And I really just think it's something that we all could learn more about. So when I look at this question, what can your breath tell you, the first place I go is thinking about the mechanics of our breath, right?

Like, am I setting myself up for success. And a lot of times, even with all the knowledge that I have, I have been doing a lot of, construction is a strong word, but a lot of DIY, light rehab projects in our home. And so this is actually the first day and I can't remember how long that I'm actually recording this podcast from my home office, sitting at my desk. And I'm realizing that I'm probably going to have to buy a different chair because this chair is not supporting my breath. So if you take some deep breaths, or even just notice your breath for a few moments, you might notice that the breathing is really hanging out in your chest. That's a sign that you could be feeling anxious, and you're keeping that breath up there. Or going in the opposite direction, you could be kind of telling your body, hey, we should be anxious right now, just because you're keeping that breath up high, and not using the full breathing mechanism that you have. So notice that, that could be a sign that you're feeling anxious or upset. I think about like when you're a kid, and you're having a tantrum, or even if you're just like all out bawling. And a lot of times you're like almost hyperventilating, you know, you're not using everything. It's not a grounded breath, it's really short and light and you're not getting all of the oxygen that your body could use to support you. So that's a thing for you to be aware of. From a breathing, we'll say an ideal breathing setup, posture, everything, sense and also, it can be an indicator that, hey, maybe something's going on beneath the surface. The best breaths are when you're really using your diaphragm and a lot of times we talk about that as breathing into your belly. Because your diaphragm is designed to help you breathe and when you're breathing down into your belly or making sure that your lungs are getting all the way filled up, it tends to be a more balanced breath with the inhale and the exhale. When you're focusing on the inhales, and not as much on the exhale, that's another way that you're starting to get yourself a little worked up. And as I'm saying get yourself, I don't want you to think that I'm blaming you for not breathing in an optimal way, this isn't something that we're taught, so I'm not like you are breathing incorrectly, get your act together. No, it's just that a lot of times we don't know how our bodies are designed. And so we just operate in whatever is comfortable and we'll sit and collapse positions because it feels comfortable, even if we can't breathe all the way.

Getting back to the belly piece, if we know that the best breaths are into our bellies, why don't we do that all the time? Well, a lot of people who grew up in a society as women, we've thought about like, I don't want my belly to be sticking out. I want to look small, I should be small, that is the ideal that I should be working towards. And then, because of that, that can be another reason that we're pushing our breath up to our chest. And making ourselves feel like anxious in the process outside of this whole diet culture mentality of needing to be as small as possible. So know that if you are having trouble breathing into your belly, and you hear people say that, but it feels difficult for you, or even for some folks when we say put one hand on your heart, one hand on your belly, just having your hand on your belly, that might be a place in your body that you don't have the greatest relationship with you, you're not alone in that. And that might be something that you start to explore. Maybe that's what your breath is telling you is that, hey, you are doing all this work to love yourself. But there's still parts of your body that you're having a hard time being in relationship with, and your belly might be one of those. Another thing that your breath might be telling you is like hey, we're actually not breathing right now. If you check in on your breath, and you're like oh, I have not been breathing. Why does that happen? I know sometimes, if I get really focused, I think of in a workout, something is difficult, I might hold on to my breath. And it's feeling so hard to do what I'm trying to do that I'm clasping, grasping. So it could be the feeling of something being difficult.

It could be an emotion, it could be a control piece, there's so many reasons why you might be holding your breath, you might be scared. But start to notice as you become in more conversation with your breath, you can notice, okay, this is what it feels like when I hold my breath when something's difficult. This is what it feels like when I'm holding my breath because I'm scared. This is what it feels like when I'm holding my breath because I'm subconsciously trying to take back control of a situation. You'll start to be able to notice those things in yourself. And it shifts as always like these things are constantly shifting depending on where you're at. So there's a lot that your breath can tell you just from a physical mechanics standpoint. But one of my favorite tools is leaning into my breath to find out energetically what is happening beneath the surface. So I love, love, taking a few breaths in through my nose, out through my nose or mouth depending on what I'm feeling and letting those breaths be slow and luxurious, not in a rush.

And then at the bottom of that last deep breath, I like to listen within and see what's there for me. And sometimes it's a word, sometimes it's tears that start welling up in my eyes. Sometimes it's a sense of like pride in something that I haven't given myself a chance to celebrate. But I love using my breath as an opportunity to just like, lean in, and excavate honestly. To notice okay, there's so much going on all the time. But what if I just sat here and was connected to my breath? What would pop up for me?And then almost every time there's something simple and beautiful that I need to be reminded of, or I need to sit with a little bit longer. So I'll often do that, in conjunction with my journaling. Just breathe and see what's there what's at the bottom of that last exhale. So that was a lot about what my breath has told me...some examples, some thoughts around what your breath might tell you. And now I want to give you a chance to do a little bit of this work yourself. So whether you use the first few moments after I pose this interview question to you, to just observe your breath, and then you jot down some thoughts. Or if you want to try that practice of taking a few deep breaths and seeing what's at the bottom for you. It's up to you. This is your space. So now I'll turn the question over to you, what can your breath tell you today?

I hope those moments of connection with your breath showed you something or reconnected you to something that you didn't know was a little bit off. Man, our breath is so powerful and so beautiful. And it was just a gift for me today to get to talk to you and be reminded of that because I even sometimes forget. So I hope this was a beautiful reminder for you as well. Thank you for your time. Thank you as always for your expertise and if you want to hang out and chat some more, you know where to find me, in Inner Workout's free, online community. Okay, take care and I will see you next week.