15 Clever Things To Know About Your Breathing:

by Carole Bourne

“The True Man breathes with his heels; the mass of men breathe with their throats” By Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu

I’ve got some awesome news for you. Your breath is a potent healing and rejuvenation tool that responds in an instant to your personal command.

You can easily, and I mean easily, invite more pockets of relaxation into your day simply by checking in with the flow of your breath. Too easy.

The following 15 tips are drawn from all the tai chi, yoga, huna, qi gong and other energy classes I have taken over the past 20 years.

In addition there are a  couple of great books I’ve been thoroughly absorbing myself in over the past month:

The Breathing Book: Good Health and Vitality Through Essential Breath Work by Donna Fahrni

Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil

The Tao of Natural Breathing by Dennis Lewis

Free Your Breath, Free Your Life by Dennis Lewis

15 clever things to know about your breathing:

  • Your breath is the first thing to respond in your body: Your breath will respond and adjust according to what you are thinking, feeling, observing, hearing, tasting, touching, sensing or experiencing at the time. It is intimately connected to your physical, emotional and spiritual state.
  • Check the depth of your inhale: Does your normal inhale only reach the middle or upper area of your chest?  Or is your normal inhale even shorter stopping around your shoulder, neck and throat area?  This is a great place to start developing a greater understanding of your breath by focusing on the depth of your inhale.  A full inhale should fill your lungs and expand your abdomen.  Place your hands onto either side of your lower ribs … feel them expand with each inhale.  Then place your hands onto your belly and feel it rise and fall with each breath.
  • Let it go  and move on with a releasing exhale: An extended exhale in times of stress pushes any drama, confusion and upset away from you.  Short, quick, shallow breathes will bring any stress and drama closer to you.  By slowing and deepening your breath, you create a healthy distance between you and whatever is going on around you.  A deep releasing exhale will support you letting it go and moving on.  Yeah!
  • 70% of waste is eliminated through your lungs: I thought I knew quite allot about the basics of the human body.  It wasn’t until I started reading the Tao Of Breathing by Dennis Lewis that I discovered something I did not know. 70% of our body’s waste products are eliminated via our lungs and the rest through the urine, skin and feces.  When the efficiency of our lungs is reduced due to poor breathing less oxygen is available to our cells, it slows down the flow of blood which carries wastes from the kidneys and lungs. Our lymphatic system which fights off viral and bacterial invaders is weakened along with a slower digestive process.
  • Your breathing habits influence the flow of your day: Jerky, shallow, fast, constricted or tight breathing reflects that you live your days in a constant stressed out – push and pull state.  You tend to overreact to that which is happening around you and waste your precious energy unnecessarily.  Your days are rushed, and time is always an issue. You have forgotten how to relax, be still and receive.  Reverse your breathing habits to experience a different flow to your day.
  • Quality breathing can release fear, anger and sadness: Your breath will become disturbed when experiencing stressful emotions.  To prevent these unwanted emotions from being pushed down and trapped in your body, simply breathe into your organs.  When I studied Qi Gong we were taught to breathe into our organs.  This, I must say was a life changing moment for me.  I received enormous benefits almost immediately.  Breathe into your lungs to remove sadness and grief.  Breathe into your kidneys to dissolve fear.  Breathe into your liver to dissolve anger.  Breathe into your heart to open yourself up to more loving experiences. Breathe in gently and deeply (never forced) to invite healthy energy into your organs, now consciously feel the stressful emotion flow out of your body with each exhale.
  • Your nose is for breathing and the mouth for eating: Whether I’m doing yoga, tai chi or qi gong all my teachers have recommended to breathe in and out through my nose.  After spending the past few months researching breath in greater depth I have not come across anyone suggesting otherwise.  One important reason which many experts share is that nose breathing corrects the balance of oxygen and dioxide in our blood.
  • Your breath activates your nervous system: When the sympathetic nervous system is activated you are living life with the “accelerator” on full throttle all the time.  You are in “fight or flight” mode and constantly releasing stress into your body.  On the other hand, the parasympathetic nervous system is like putting the “brake on” to life.  It helps slow your body down which in turn allows restoration and rejuvenation. The key to activating your parasympathetic nervous system is to place your full attention onto your breath.  Close your eyes and allow your breath to slow down relax and become gentle. Let your whole body absorb your now gentle breath. Another great way to activate your parasympathetic nervous system is to practice a little restorative yoga for as little as 5 minutes with childs pose or legs up the wall.
  • Experience the pause after your exhale: Take time to marinate with your breath.  Don’t force anything or rush straight into your next breath.  Notice the very natural stillness and slight pause after each exhale. Infuse gentleness into your breathing.  Marinate for a moment with its nourishing flow.   Don’t push your next breath into the future, particularly if you haven’t even got there yourself.  Become present, live in the now and experience the pause after your next exhale.  There is a pocket of peace to be found in that pause.
  • Your body can’t relax if your mind and breath are racing: Your thoughts are directly linked to the quality of your breathing.  Busy, overactive thinking often means short, shallow and quick breathes.  By focusing on calming your mind you will automatically be calming your breath and in turn relaxing your body.  Meditation is an awesome way to calm your mind.  Another option is to turn your back to the world for a few minutes.  This very simple yoga pose that forces your mind to surrender. Your breath and thoughts have no choice, but to slow down.
  • A conscious exhale removes toxins from your body: Spending longer on your exhale through your nose will remove old, stuck or stagnant carbon dioxide from the very bottom of your lungs, along with toxic bi-products the body has produced.  In addition, a deep sign (strong exhale) is often a release of worries and heavy thoughts. A good exhale can help you let it go emotionally and physically.
  • Experience a yogic breath: Anyone who practices yoga with be familiar with the 3 main stages of yogic breathing.  Lying comfortably on your back or sitting up in a chair inhale.  Firstly notice your collar bones and upper part of your chest expand, then follow the inhale down by placing a hand on either side of your ribs and feel them expand.  Lastly place your hands gently on your belly/abdomen area and notice the rise and fall of your tummy
  • Pulling your stomach in reduces your oxygen intake: One of the main benefits of breathing of course is to invite loads of oxygen into your body.  Restricting your oxygen intake comprises the health of your body.  To invite oxygen deep into your abdomen, diaphragm area keep your belly soft, relaxed and open.  Touch and massage it frequently as your belly is the very centre of your breath.  Many ancient traditions such as Taoism believe we can accumulate and store energy in our belly area.   It is often known as our seat of power.
  • Breathing is not just for your lungs its for your whole body: You can consciously choose to direct the flow of your breath into absolutely any part of your body, for whatever purpose.  Improve energy flow, dissolve tension, release a build up of pressure in your head area, ground you, energerzie you, de-stress you or to simply send smiles into all your organs.  I ‘m prone to being vague and spacey.   To ground myself I often imagine my breathe flowing down into my legs, feet, toes and then into the ground. It helps me come back into my body.
  • Shallow breathing causes memory loss: The Taoists believe that loss of oxygen though shallow breathing ie. your inhale only goes as deep as your throat or top of your lungs, is the primary cause of memory loss in the elderly. Not sure how true this is, and I can’t even remember where I read it but, nevertheless I included it anyway as it certainly got me thinking. Worth exploring.


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Beside my bed:

mindoverIf you are struggling with health issues, I have a feeling you will love this book.

I’ve borrowed it twice from the library and will now be buying a copy.  Some books are simply keepers to delve into from time to time for their pearls of wisdom.

The biggest highlight for me was being reassured that our bodies natural healing mechanisms work magnificently when our bodies have internally triggered the relaxation response.  This research is a perfect fit for my Slow Retreats.  xx Carole

Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof You Can Heal Yourself by Dr. Lissa Rankin


Rejuvenation Lounge Full Moon Healing Circles:

Each month I craft a unique Global Full Moon Healing circle with specific healing and therapeutic qualities.


You are very welcome to join, no matter where you live in the world.

The circles are active and streaming healing vibes your way from the start of the full moon and continue for up to 10 days.

Click here to read more about my Full Moon Healing Circles.  xx Carole



{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Al at 7P July 29, 2008 at 10:07 am

Wow, I didn’t realize that breathing released toxins too. The common thinking is that our emotions control our breathing, but it can be the other way around as well.

Thanks for a very thorough overview of how to take advantage of breathing techniques.


Lightening July 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

Another fabulous article. Thanks Carole. Have stumbled it for you. Trying to remember to do that more when I find something I really find helpful or enjoyable. :)


Jonathan Mead July 29, 2008 at 12:07 pm

This is awesome Carole!

I never knew there was so much to know about breathing. I knew it was important, but this is really eye opening. Thank you for taking the time to put all of this together.



Healthy Living July 29, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Wow, thanks so much guys for your feedback and vote of confidence.

The weeks and weeks it took me to write this article was worth it with your awesome comments.

Peace, love and chocolate



Health Guru July 29, 2008 at 11:36 pm

Great article again Carole!

This has been one of your best so far, and I really enjoyed reading the tips. I’ll definitely be trying them at work today here – we all know I’ll need the deep and relaxing breathes in the office!

All the best,



heywood jablomi July 30, 2008 at 2:12 am

“Inhale” is a verb, not a noun. “Check the depth of your inhale” should be “check the depth of your inhalation. “Breathe” is also a verb, not a noun, so “our breathe is the first thing to respond in your body” should be “your breath is the first thing to respond in your body.”

Color me anal.


Annie Binns July 30, 2008 at 2:16 am

Such a wonderful article – I ALWAYS forget to make my belly soft when I breathe and when I did it just a minute ago after reading this, I instantly felt refreshed!!! Please know how much I appreciate that you spent an incredible amount of time writing a post like this. When you write something that makes someone else feel better – how powerful!! I know you will have this impact on everyone who reads this!


Dennis Lewis July 30, 2008 at 3:55 am


As the author of the two books you mention here, I was very pleased to learn about The Healthy Living Lounge.

Your readers might like to know about my website Authentic Breathing Resources, where they can read various articles about breathing and also learn some safe, simple, and effective breathing practices. The address is: http://www.authentic-breathing.com.

They might also wish to know about my monthly publication entitled “The Journal of Harmonious Awakening.” Anyone can subscribe to this free journal at http://www.dennislewis.org.

Keep up the great work!

With best wishes,

Dennis Lewis


Cynthia Clinton July 30, 2008 at 10:30 am

Hi Carole,

I follow you on Twitter and you always give good reminders to pay attention to my breath. If not for you, I’d have taken a lot longer to get to that particular health improvement. I do controlled breathing in my meditations, but now pay attention to my breathing many more times during the day. Thank you!



Christie July 30, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Your post on the power of breathing is right on the nose. Breathing exercises help me to start my day. I find that if I don’t do a number of these breathing techniques, my day is a complete whirl-wind. Thanks for giving me a few additions to my daily practice.



6pack abs July 31, 2008 at 1:59 pm

What about breathing and exercise?


Marelisa August 3, 2008 at 1:40 am

Hi Carole: I’ve read that you can stimulate both hemispheres of the brain by alternating breathing through each nostril (you close one nostril with your hand and breath out of the other nostril for a minute and then do the same with the other). I completely agree that controlling the breath can be rejuvenating and can instantly change our mood.


omami September 17, 2008 at 3:18 am

Hi Carole,

I found this article so good that I registered myself for the first time just now at the two social bookmark sites to list it there. I have also bookmarked it at delicious so that more and more people can benefit from your useful work.

Sarva Mangalam


Healthy Living September 17, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Hi Sarva,

Thank you so much for loving my article. Breathing is an awesome
tool that we can use at any time to change our response to any situation.

Peace, love and chocolate



The Fitness Diva October 2, 2008 at 9:12 am

I love this article! wow! We spend so much time concentrating on other aspects of health and fitness that we forget the most important element of all; breathing. I will take more thoughtful, healthier breaths from now on! ;)
Interesting fact that shallow breathing causes memory loss. I didn’t know that!
Great post!


Raffaella November 4, 2008 at 6:37 am

Thank’s for sharing! Your article is very interesting and useful!


GaryD November 22, 2008 at 3:28 am

Great post! I especially liked your last point. I never thought about how shallow breathing can affect your memory! Wow, what a neuron opener! Thanks for the post!


http://www.jeremydelgado.com December 7, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Excellent points, we always overlook what we think is automatic


Personal Trainer February 19, 2009 at 5:17 am

You neglected to mention as my dentist always tells me…

Breathing out of your mouth is bad for your teeth and gums!


diet al March 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm

great article, will focus on the exhale


Hearing Aids June 3, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful and beneficial to your readers :)


coches June 26, 2009 at 1:21 am

Very interesting facts about breathing.


Quentin Fernandez July 7, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Hello Carole

That tip on proper breathing was excellent. A lot of us miss out due to the wrong method of breathing. It was worth reading that article




anand khatri September 23, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I am a theosphist and practise healthy living through Meditation and Yoga.
I live in New Delhi.
Life is an experiment and your article supports the direction of my search.
I thank you for your efforts and I appreciate your choice and direction of work.

Anand Khatri


Ray April 11, 2010 at 7:04 am

A good site for the reminder to make one aspects of our fuel of life a better more refined fuel. However did you know that all the most most poweful energy centres we have, meridians and chakras all operate on the basis of good posture. Without it the entire system grows weak and slugglish and vulnerable to illness. Poor posture affects breathing through the stress on the brachial plexus and the very WRONG message of pulling back the shoulders to sit up straight. Otherwise your info is still very useful!!


Ray Haq. Life yoga Head Instructor.


Janet May 31, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I have been doing yoga for a little over a year and have learned so much about the importance of our breath. I have found it so helpful in many normal circumstances of life.
Thanks for the article. It has reminded me how important this is.


John Raines August 10, 2011 at 10:58 am

I merely wish there have been more goodies on the internet today, thanks and can God Bless…


Chris Bauman October 4, 2011 at 1:25 am

Thank you for your welcome tips. You mention nose breathing rebalances oxygen and carbon dioxide. Yes, it’s important to get oxygen in gently and without effort at rest; it’s also very important that this precious oxygen gets delivered to the tissues. If there is an imbalance between O2 and CO2 in the bloostream, then hemoglobin will not release the O2 into the tissues and unpleasant symptoms can develop, leading to chronic illness. Learn more about CO2 and Buteyko breathing. It’s just as important as O2!


Angel November 22, 2011 at 9:32 am

Excellent points, we always overlook what we think is automatic


Tinks February 13, 2013 at 1:44 pm

You might liek to check this website – it looks like someone has plagiarised your site content in regard to breathing. In a google search I put in “shallow breathing and memory loss” and your site showed first, followed by the one I am giving you the link to (http://thedetoxdiva.com/15-facts-to-love-about-your-breath/) Both had the same text in their google description …

15 Clever Things To Know About Your Breathing: | Rejuvenation …
thehealthylivinglounge.com/…/15-clever-things-to-know-about-your…Jul 29, 2008 – Shallow breathing causes memory loss: The Taoists believe that loss of oxygen though shallow breathing ie. your inhale only goes as deep as …

15 Facts to Love about Your Breath | The Detox Diva
thedetoxdiva.com/15-facts-to-love-about-your-breath/Aug 7, 2012 – Shallow breathing causes memory loss: The Taoists believe that loss of oxygen though shallow breathing ie. your inhale only goes as deep as ..


Rohit Ranjane April 30, 2013 at 8:19 pm

ohhh its great .thanks for providing such useful info. i did’t know breathing affects a lot on our body. I am sure it will help help me. I am doing these from these moment.


Vignesh April 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Excellent article Carole…U made us realize how important breathing is….:)


Vignesh S


Barbara June 29, 2014 at 8:54 am

It’s early morning and my stumble upon delivery of this article has made my morning! How wonderful that we can lie flat on our backs and breathe evennif it’s too cold to jump out of bed to do so! I just fully openened my window and started breathing after reading your article! I also shared it on FB ! Thanks so much!


Tam May 27, 2015 at 3:47 am

Hello – I came across your article today (“15 clever things to know about your breathing”), while doing some research for an online class I will be teaching about self healing.

I thought it was great (thank you!) and am wondering if you would give approval for me to utilize your article in my class? I would certainly be giving you credit, so if you approve… just send me the specifics on how you would like me to site your name and business and web site etc…

If this isn’t bright to you, I understand, but if you could let me know either way that would much be appreciated.

Thank you for your consideration and sharing your light with the world.



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