Are You Breathing Properly?
Both modern science and ancient wisdom agree that proper breathing means better health.
If you’ve ever watched a baby breathe while sleeping, you’ll notice they breathe with their whole belly, chest and back. They naturally breathe deep using their diaphragm to pull air into their lungs. As they inhale through their nose, their belly and chest rises and as they exhale, their belly contracts.
This is the way that we humans instinctively breathe, but as we get older, everything from poor posture, emotional trauma, environmental stressors and societal expectations (suck in that belly!) interferes and we develop incorrect breathing patterns.
We become shallow breathers, breathing with our chest, inhaling through our mouth, restricting our breath, causing us to take in less air.
Big deal you might think, I’m breathing right? Well, it turns out it really is a big deal. When we breathe in a shallow way, we signal the body to remain in a heightened state of fight or flight stress.
The chronic stress that is associated with shallow breathing interferes with our digestive function, weakens the immune system and increases inflammation. Metabolism and detoxification are significantly compromised.
Shallow breathing can serve as a precursor for various cardiovascular problems and it can worsen existing respiratory issues.
It’s directly linked to heightened anxiety and panic attacks, especially if you are already prone to them.
Shallow breathing contributes to fatigue, brain fog and emotional reactivity.
And because breathing from our chest creates tension in the muscles in our neck and shoulders, it can result in neck pain, chronic headaches, and an increased risk of injury.
The solution: Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing – Deep breathing techniques can reverse all the negative effects of shallow breathing. The relaxation response is triggered in the body, flooding it with positive hormones, and breaking the stress cycle.
With awareness and “training” of breathing deeply, YOU can practice the relaxation response and actually control the perceived levels of stress in your life.
YES! Your body is brilliantly designed and YOU are that powerful!
So to practice breathing from your diaphragm you need to begin focusing on breathing from your belly not your chest.
1) Sit upright with a straight spine, feet flat on the floor, relax your belly, relax your tongue and jaw, chin slightly tucked in. Relax your shoulders.
2) Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose while pushing out your stomach as far as you can. The hand on your stomach will move out and the hand on your chest will remain still.
3) Exhale through your nose equally as slowly and deeply. Feel your stomach pulling back in. Both your chest and shoulders should stay relaxed and still.
If you are new to this, you may need to over-exaggerate the feeling of expanding and contracting your belly as you inhale and exhale consciously.