10 Fun Facts About Breathing & the Respiratory System

Woman taking a deep breath overlooking a rocky beach

Our ability to breathe is fascinating, as it’s one of the only systems in our body that can be controlled both voluntarily, through the central nervous system, and more often involuntarily, through the autonomic nervous system. This overlap between the two systems is the reason why focused, intentional breathing methods through yoga and meditation are able to affect other involuntary muscles like the heart.

Our breath is what gives us life and without it, the human body cannot exist. But is it possible to better your life by paying more attention to how you breathe?

While breathing is so commonplace to our existence, proper breathing techniques and awareness of breath can have dramatic implications on our health. Having knowledge of specific breathing techniques can lower stress, help you sleep, help your mind function more acutely, and even curb food cravings.

When we breathe, the average adult draws in about 13 pints of air into the lungs every minute. From the lungs, that oxygen is then transferred from the air sacs in our lungs throughout the body via red blood cells to the blood vessels that distribute it to nearly every system. Meanwhile, waste gases, like CO2, are exchanged and filtered out. 

For the average person with good lung health, the amount of oxygen in the blood, or the arterial blood gas (ABG) oxygen level, should be somewhere between 95-100 percent oxygen.

Interesting Facts About Breathing

1. Breathing is the only autonomous system of the body that we can also control. This means that the body governs it, but we can change how we breathe through conscious breathing practices such as pranayama.

 

2. If you laid out the lungs flat, they would cover the size of a tennis court (about 70 square meters!) The right lung is larger than the left: The left lung is made up of two lobes while the right is made up of three.

 

3. When we breathe we are either right nostril or left nostril dominant. You can find out which is more active by wetting your thumb and holding it to the right then the left nostril. Yogis believe that when the right is more open or breathing more smoothly we are more driven by the sympathetic nervous system. This means we are more fired up, active, and aroused. Dominance in the left nostril tends to happen when we are relaxed and at ease. The dominance changes around every 20 minutes during the day. Single-nostril breathing can help regulate the left and right sides thereby creating balance in our nervous system.

 

4. Breathing more slowly and taking longer breaths can reduce your appetite according to some studies. While mindfulness techniques like visualization and guided imagery have shown to be highly effective for those struggling with food cravings and addiction, slow breathing exercises also proved effective.

 

5. It is normal to take around 16 breaths per minute. Asthmatics and people who hyperventilate often double this breathing rate. This leads to taking in more oxygen but expelling too much carbon dioxide, or CO2. When your CO2 is decreased you can’t get as much oxygen setting up a cycle whereby you breathe even faster.

 

6. Ancient yogis believed we only have so many breaths in our life. It’s considered within a normal range to take somewhere between 12 to 25 breaths per minute, based on your level of fitness. But the average person takes about 16 breaths per minute, or 960 breaths per hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. If you lived to the age of 75, that would mean 630,720,000 breaths in your lifetime.

But if we could, why not stretch our life span out a bit longer by taking as many slow, deep breaths as possible?

 

7. Our breath is an indicator of our mood and our mood is an indicator of our breath. This means that if we change how we breathe we can change our mood. It also means that when our mood changes so does our breath. When it comes to stress, mindful breathing practices are a great tool to lower blood pressure, increase our lung capacity for oxygen, and in the long term, prevent heart disease.

Our brains are always reacting to situations based on our fight-or-flight mechanism, an inherent survival mechanism that surely protected us from fatal situations that occurred often in our more primitive days. In modern society, that mechanism still exists and our brains tend to apply it to the daily stresses of life that aren’t so life-threatening. With that, unfortunately, comes the stress response spiking cortisol and other stress hormones, which when released too often, can lead to chronic fatigue, depression, and disease. But don’t just take our word for it, check out Harvard Medical School’s research backing it.

 

8. There are some common breathing habits that we have that we may not even know about. They are the following: 

    1. Only breathing into the chest
    2. Inhalations are stronger than exhalations
    3. Breath-holding
    4. Mouth breathing
    5. Reverse breathing (where the diaphragm rises instead of falls on the inhale)
    6. Over-breathing

 

9. We breathe in and out of our nose during a yoga practice for a few reasons. The main one is that when we breathe like this we can’t take in so much air or expel so much air. So if we have to resort to opening our mouth to get more air it is an indicator that we have stepped into stressing or pushing our bodies.

 

10. Mouth-breathing can contribute to the following:

    1. Misaligned bite
    2. Bad breath
    3. Snoring
    4. Sleep apnea 
    5. Night-time urination

With the increasing research we have, showing the importance of breath and breathing habits, it’s becoming more and more clear that being mindful of your breath is incredibly beneficial to your overall health and wellbeing. So if you haven’t already, try practicing some mindful breathing techniques and watch how quickly the various systems of your body begin to respond.



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How Rose Quartz Can Help Your Meditation Practice

Crystals are among our most abundant gifts from Earth. Yet choosing which one to use can often be a daunting undertaking. Rose quartz is a perfect ally for novices and seasoned gem-lovers alike, as it can be a gateway to greater self-love, compassion, and gentle harmony with the universe.

The vibration of rose quartz is soothing yet highly effective as a powerful transformer! This makes it one of the best meditation crystals, subtly lifting your heart to higher frequencies and reminding us of the importance of self-care. Rose quartz is a must-have for every crystal enthusiast and a great ally for supporting the energetic shifts on our planet.

How to Use Rose Quartz

Spiritual Wellbeing

Rose quartz neutralizes negative emotions, clears toxic attachments, grants clarity on truth and purpose, aids spiritual evolution, and dissipates fear. As we become more aware of the radiance within by knowing the illuminated heart, we can more easily manifest and fulfill life’s purpose. Rose quartz also cultivates unconditional love free of drama and expectations a doorway to inner peace and satisfaction expand as we become aware of the directives of the true heart.

Emotional Health

Rose quartz balances the heart chakra, releases issues of abandonment, depression, jealousy, and low self-esteem. It creates a connection to the highest essence of god within, granting serenity and peace to become who we are. It brings issues to the surface that which needs to be addressed and released, it demands attention be paid to the heart, which brings inner confidence and calm, and it helps us radiate with compassion and sincere love for those we encounter.

How to Use Crystals for Meditation

Meditation is one of the surest ways to inner states of knowingness and bliss. Stepping outside of ordinary reality and feeding the stillness within should be a cornerstone of all spiritual development.

When we add the blessings of crystals to our meditation, we can amplify our experiences, accelerate our growth, and gain an even greater connection to the natural world around us.

Crystals are a living frequency and will naturally help to deeply and honestly heal the spaces we may have been avoiding. As the addition of a crystal can give us perspective, we can learn not to take things so seriously and effectively heal our hearts.

When we bring crystals to our meditative practice, our spaces expand to include the natural elements. Rose quartz meditation crystals can remind us of the love all around us and bring us into more sincere love toward ourselves and others.

Using rose quartz to meditate can help ease emotional disharmony as it reminds us of the gentle love offered to us daily. It further soothes emotional trauma which may keep our hearts closed and can be a blessed ally for calling in greater personal and romantic love.

Implementing Rose Quartz Meditation Crystals

When you need a love refresher or are in deep turmoil and craving ways to feel the abundance of love, this meditation can guide you back to your own inner wisdom. While you can quickly use this as a pep-me-up, you can also deepen your practice by lengthening your meditation to gain even greater blessings.

  1. Clear your crystal by running it under clean water.
  2. Introduce yourself to your crystal.
  3. Lie down in a quiet space, free of distractions. Lying on the floor with a mat is suggested to keep you present during the mediation.
  4. State aloud your intentions for connection and healing, so the frequency of the crystal can support you there. Speaking out loud also invokes your larger guides and angel to offer their support of your space.
  5. Rest the rose quartz on your heart. Place it securely for you may be mighty distracted if it slides off when you are deep within.
  6. Allow yourself to feel the unique energy of the rose quartz. What frequency is it emitting? How does it feel?
  7. Visualize the soft pink color expanding from your heart, filling up each space with a more resounding sense of peace and love. Let this color and vibration move until it fills all of your body.
  8. Bathe in the compassion and bliss for several minutes allowing this frequency to re-program your heart, mind, and body.
  9. When you’ve soaked up all the love vibes, place both of your hands over the stone — this posture is frequent in both kundalini and the Egyptian mystery teachings.
  10. With your hands on your heart over the rose quartz, allow your breath to be your guide. Breathe in more love, compassion, and peace and breathe out anything that hinders your access to your true heart field. You should begin to feel at one with the frequency of the rose quartz allowing yourself to slip deeper into her generous blessings.
  11. Say aloud several times: “I am loved. I am love. I am the embodiment of the light within.” Repeat this mantra until you feel electric with its truth.
  12. When you are complete, gently wiggle yourself back into your body and open your eyes. Thank the rose quartz for her teachings and remind your heart that this is now your highest frequency. Acknowledging this shift will train your brain to lock in this vibration as a constant state of being.

As you practice meditating with crystals, you will discover new pathways and eased access to pure fields of energy. Though this specific rose quartz mediation is for the heart, you may use other crystal allies as they come into your awareness working with other chakra centers and topics as you are guided. The meditation is universal and will help you expand your light, walk your truth, and fuel a world of greater conscious love.

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