Donna Brooks is a somatic movement educator and therapist, Yogi, and embodied meditator who has 35 years of experience teaching, counseling and coaching in movement and the healing arts.

Breathing for Intelligence

Sounds simple but also far fetched, doesn’t it? But really, deep in our brain, the limbic system decides if any particular stimulus is worthy of activating our “fight or flight or freeze” mechanisms. If activated we either put tremendous energy – glucose, muscle readiness, cortisol and adrenalin release into survival. Or, conversely, we can become numb, depressed and inactive. In either case guess what takes a back burner? New learning and the potential plasticity’s of our brain. After all,  if you might die what is the advantage to learning?

An antidote? Breathing that utilizes the full action of the diaphragm “resets” our nervous system allowing us to move out of fight / flight or freeze. In our society these options too often become habits, leading to what we experience as chronic stress. Learn to use the full power of your diaphragm by focusing on the complete release of your exhalation. It can take a bit of practice but the rewards are great. Over time you can notice more creativity, memory improvement and an easier time understanding complexity.

What experiences do you have with breathing and feeling smarter?

9 thoughts on “Breathing for Intelligence”

  1. I need this reminder every day. Thank you.

    I incorporate breathing into the opening of every coaching session, so that we are both grounded in the moment and able to make the best use of the time. Almost everyone tells me it makes a big difference for their clarity.

  2. Hello! Magnificent 🙂 Have been practicing the out breath as the lead breath since your gift of presentation to us last week and am ever grateful – truly puts me at ease no matter what is going on around me quite quickly and I can feel my brain redirect away from stress response. Thank you so much. Your wisdom and kind sharing is wonderful. Hope to connect with you soon.

  3. Donna,

    Thanks for your eloquence and wisdom. I think you’re right about the importance of full exhalation in particular, which I do practice when I’m feeling stressed. It can actually make me feel a little high. Just paying attention to the natural rising and release of breath, as you have us do in class, is also really helpful. Matching this with mindful meditation helps me loosen up around people, receive them more fully (without anxiety), and be a better listener–in short, it makes me a better teacher. Anyway, I do look forward to more of your posts!

  4. Donna,Thanks for your eloquence and wsoidm. I think you’re right about the importance of full exhalation in particular, which I do practice when I’m feeling stressed. It can actually make me feel a little high. Just paying attention to the natural rising and release of breath, as you have us do in class, is also really helpful. Matching this with mindful meditation helps me loosen up around people, receive them more fully (without anxiety), and be a better listener in short, it makes me a better teacher. Anyway, I do look forward to more of your posts!

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