Learning to breathe right is simple, but it can take a little practice as many of us have been breathing the wrong way since childhood.
If you watch a baby breathing, you'll notice their belly ‘balloon out’ every time they breathe in. This is a perfect demonstration of correct breathing technique.
For many of us, this kind of breathing is no longer instinctive. Cultural expectations, including the desire to have a flat stomach, encourage holding our breath and sucking in our stomachs.
To practice deep breathing, try placing one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Breathe in deeply while pushing out your stomach as far as you can.
The goal is to keep your chest and shoulders completely still while only your stomach expands. As you exhale, you should feel your stomach pulling back in.
Always inhale through your nose. This slows down your breathing, and filters out toxins in the air. Exhale through your nose, or mouth if your prefer.
Once you've got the hang of it, try to use this technique for every breath you take. It might take some getting used to, but the benefits are incredible!
Cultivating greater control over our lungs can bring many benefits to our mental and physical health.
Quick, shallow and unfocused breathing is linked to a whole host of problems, including stress and anxiety, depression, a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, fatigue, respiratory problems, headaches and tight neck and shoulders.
When we shallow breathe with our chests, the body remains in a cyclical state of stress—our stress causing shallow breathing, and our shallow breathing causing stress. Our shoulders slump forward and our posture changes as well.
Slow, deep breaths trigger your body's natural responses and accelerate your descent into a more relaxed state. This can lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate, relax muscles, decrease stress and anxiety, and increase energy levels.
As well as improving cardiovascular health, the slower breathing rate of six breaths per minute also seems to be optimal for pain management.
In your entire nervous system, breathing is the thing that's under your conscious control. You can change the way you breathe immediately. That's why yoga and meditation use it.
Once you learn how the breath affects your mind and body, you have a quick and easy way to change your state, whether it’s to decrease stress and anxiety, increase your energy and focus, or even aid in creativity.
Yoga practitioners have, of course, been reaping these benefits for millennia. Just breeeathe...