Last week I went for a very long bike ride in hot, humid weather. When I came back home, I noticed a small, purple bruise over my right eye. It was swollen and tender to the touch. My first thoughts were, “Could this be a bug bite?” and ” Did a small rock hit me along the way?” Surely, I would have noticed these things during my ride. So, I did what any IMG_1846rational person would do: I took a picture of it and sent to my doctor, who happens to be one of my best friends.  I asked her, “Is this a bug bite? Leukemia? Covid?” (Rational, right?) She responded, “No, you broke a blood vessel while riding!”

I broke a blood vessel?? Since this has never happened to me before, I started thinking about it. Broken blood vessels come from excessive straining. This can happen during childbirth, weightlifting, vomiting or even coughing too hard. In my case, it probably happened when I was climbing up a hill and not breathing properly.

Breathing is a wondrous phenomenon. When we breathe we send oxygen into the body.  Oxygen, which gets carried to our working muscles via the red blood cells, is essential for making energy.  Breathing correctly during exercise (exhaling on exertion) will prevent injuries and enhance performance.  Not breathing properly, as I experienced, can have consequences. In addition to straining the blood vessels, holding your breath or not breathing well can cause hernias, spikes in blood pressure,  and increase back pain.

Putting exercise aside, deep breathing has far reaching benefits: It can reduce stress, make you feel calmer, help you fall sleep, improve your lung capacity, and reduce pain. This is why women are coached to breath during childbirth.

If you’ve never tried square breathing, let’s give it a try together. Sit comfortably with your feet on the floor. Slowly inhale through your nose to the count of 4. Hold at the top of the breath for a count of 4. Then gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4. At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold or the count of 4. Do this a few times.


Now that we’re living in a pandemic, deep breathing is vital. We all are experiencing more uncertainty, more anxiety, and more stress. So, whether you are riding a bike, taking a zoom class, walking your dog, or need to give yourself the gift of feeling calmer, just BREATHE.


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Phyllis said,

    Thank you for the breathing exercises. I’ve been doing something similar, taking 10 breaths through my nose, holding for a count of 10 and blowing out through my mouth. Your count of 4 is more realistic!

    Take care and stay safe! ❤️

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Please comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: