dana aantas breathing 01
This 90-second deep breathing exercise will help relieve stress
03:32 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: Join Dana Santas for a four-part series to learn how you can breathe better to live better. Santas, known as the “Mobility Maker,” is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and mind-body coach in professional sports, and is the author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.” Here’s Part I.

CNN  — 

Breath is a powerful force — without it, there is no life.

But what you might not realize is that the quality of your breathing directly impacts the quality of your life.

Breathing plays a vital role in how you think, feel, rest and recover, and it even impacts your posture and movement.

The act of breathing is a voluntary movement you can control, Santas said. Place your hands on your ribs to monitor and guide their movement during breathing exercises.

In this four-part series, I’m using my nearly two decades as a breathing and mind-body coach in professional sports to explain breathing’s powerful influence on our lives and share the same techniques I use with the pros that anyone can leverage in life-changing ways.

This first article sets the foundation by opening your eyes to the innate power you possess through your breath. Next, I will cover breathing’s impact on posture, movement and chronic pain. In the third installment, I teach you ways to leverage your breathing for better sleep and overall recovery. And, lastly, you’ll learn how to train yourself to breathe better for stress management and enhanced focus. Throughout the series, you will also find supporting commentary and advice from some of the athletes and coaches I work with in professional sports.

Respiration vs. breathing

Respiration is typically thought of as automatic. That’s because it’s part of our autonomic nervous system, meaning we don’t have to think about it for it to happen, like digestion or circulation. Indeed, the metabolic process of respiration, which supplies oxygen to all the tissues of the body and removes carbon dioxide, is involuntary.

But the act of breathing — the movement pattern that powers respiration — is actually a voluntary movement that you can control at will. And because of respiration’s paramount role in keeping you alive, the quality of your breathing can impact virtually all other systems of the body, which means YOU have the power to actively use your breathing to positively affect your health and wellness on many levels.

Understanding the power of breathing

Intentionally changing the cadence and mechanics of your breathing gives you the ability to influence other aspects of your nervous system. The way you breathe impacts your heart rate, blood pressure, stress response and even your brain state. <