The Pleasure of Breathing

How many ways can we enjoy breathing?

It is a simple pleasure to be able to breathe automatically. No need to pay attention. The diaphragm moves; the lungs inflate; oxygen transfers to the red blood cells and waste products and poisons leave with each exhalation. Most of the time, we are not aware we are breathing.

Surface from a dive underwater and take a breath. Turn the head to the side while swimming and take a breath. It is nice to know at the air/water interface that it is possible to breathe.

Food caught in the throat or temporary spasm or closure of the throat and it feels like you cannot breathe. Does it help to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth? It is a great feeling for the throat to relax and the air to pass, in and out. Not feeding the body but keeping it alert and alive.

In yogic breathing, you may breathe in and out alternately using one nostril and then the other. Fast and shallow. Slow and normal. Either way, what is the experience?

Rowing and warming up, the breath will deepen. The diaphragm will move downward and the gut out more fully, the lungs filling more deeply with air. The number of breaths per minute and per stroke may change. Settling in with your 'second wind,' you may experience a calming of the breath even as you continue to work.

Rowing harder, you reach a point where you are winded, breathing hard, feeling a desire to slow down. That can still be comfortable and yet signal the time for rest  - or least the time to ease back somewhat - is coming.

Rowing harder day to day and week to week, you find you can work harder and still breathe comfortably. You find you enjoy the feeling that, although rowing while somewhat out of breath, you can continue this indefinitely. You are comfortable. You have reached another plateau in your fitness.