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Navigating the Aging Body is learning how to become intimate with one’s breathing patterns and habitual tension.

Breathing is an autonomic function of the nervous system. When we stop breathing, we stop living. The brain receives a message that the body is low on oxygen. That message goes to the diaphragm and tells the diaphragm to do its job. Ideally, when the brain gets the message that the diaphragm needs to go to work, we exhale the air that is being held. The diaphragm then ascends into the ribcage, emptying the stale air in the lungs, which allows a more full breath to be taken in. 

But If the diaphragm is weak from lack of activity or trauma, its capacity is limited, and we resort to our accessory breathing muscles, which are in our chest and upper neck. We are not able to truly get a good breath.

Your breathing is as unique to you as your fingerprint, because it depends on the muscle tension in your torso, what you do with your jaw,  how your tongue rests in your mouth, what kind of lower back position you hold yourself in and, most importantly, what is the health of your diaphragm. After all, the diaphragm is your main breathing muscle. 

What’s one thing you might do to allow more room for your breath?

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