This might sound kind of obvious and pointless to say, but it's really important to breathe. When we stretch, we breathe a certain way. When we kiai, it's a loud expulsion of breath. When we've been doing a lot of kicks and we start getting winded, Sensei often has us take a few seconds to just breathe.
I think it's important to take time out to breathe in real life, too. It's really easy to get wrapped up in school, work, and the other kinds of stress that occupy our daily lives. Sometimes we forget to breathe. It's so easy to just forget. Breathing is automatic; most of us don't have to think about it. We just do it. And we only take time out to focus on breathing when we think we really, really need it.
After all, why should I just sit here and breathe while I could be getting something accomplished? I can multi-task, after all. Isn't it just a waste of time?
A few months ago I might've answered that question 'yes', but I've learned that the opposite is true. It's not a waste of time; breathing is a way to help us reboot or reconnect with what's going on in our bodies and minds. Sometimes it's easy to forget where and who we are...taking a second to breathe really helps with that. We, as humans, seem to feel the need to always go, go, go. I know that I like to be at the top of my game, three steps ahead of the last "ICE!". I like to DO stuff on the mat, and I like to do it with enthusiasm and excitement.
But even so, it's immensely important to stop and catch your breath so that you don't get hurt.
My dad once told me that, "If you're not breathing, nothing else matters."
He's an EMT, so he would say that...