Friday, October 4, 2013

Out of the Mouth of Babes

I recently had the opportunity to visit my friend's newborn baby, which was a much more illuminating experience than I had anticipated. Here she is, this vulnerable little being whose awareness amounts to not much more than a microbe at this point. And yet, as I sat there watching her sleep, I realized something – she was breathing perfectly!

In a previous post I discussed the difference between belly-breathers and chest-breathers. Belly breathing, making use of the diaphragm to fully expand the lungs, which has a naturally calming affect on the whole organism, is the natural way humans are designed to breathe. Chest breathing, on the other hand, is quick, shallow, and associated with stress and anxiety. Yet this reflects how we all breathe!

So here's this little newborn baby teaching us all a lesson in proper physiology. Before she's had the opportunity to take on the stresses of the world, to carry the tensions from daily life in her abdomen, to acquiesce to all the social dictates of our times  (“suck in that gut, soldier!” or “ a lady doesn't have a belly”) here she is, breathing the way her body was designed to breathe. Executing it perfectly, in fact.

Breathe in, belly expands. Breathe out, belly contracts. No ab muscles engaged. No intercostal muscles roped into expanding the rib cage to take in a breath, something they were never designed for. Just normal, proper belly breathing.

Thanks for the lesson, kid. Hopefully I can return the favour some day.

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