Breathing. It seems like an easy task. We do it all the time. But, are you breathing correctly?
For many of us the events and stresses of daily life cause us to alter our natural way of breathing. Poor posture, mental and physical stress, environmental factors, and even the clothes we wear can result in shallow or rapid breathing patterns.
The benefits of learning to breathe properly include:
- Reduction of feelings of stress and anxiety
- Relaxation of tight muscles
- A decrease in blood pressure
- Increase in energy
- Increased lung capacity
So, what is the proper way to breathe?
Diaphragmatic breathing is the best way to gain the benefits of breathing.
Typically we are taught to pull in our stomach and puff our chest when we breathe, however this results in a decrease in lung capacity, shallow breathing, and increased muscle tension.
However with diaphragmatic breathing you allow the belly to expand during inhalation giving the diaphragm room to move downward and creating more space for the lungs to take in air.
Steps to Diaphragmatic Breathing:
- Keep the abdomen relaxed
- Inhale and exhale through your nose. This allows the air you take in to be warmed, humidified, and filtered before it reaches the lungs.
- Begin to inhale focusing on filling the bottom of the lungs first, just like water fills a jar.
- Take slow, even breaths.
- Allow the belly to gently expand on its own. Do not try to push it out.
- Once you have filled the lungs to capacity allow the natural movement of the diaphragm to press up toward the lungs pushing the air out.
- Do not force the air out of your lungs just allow it to gently flow out through the nostrils
- Keep the breath flowing in and out. Do not hold your breath on inhalation or exhalation.
Set aside a few minutes in your day to practice your breathing exercises. Start with 5 minutes and work up to 10 or more minutes, this is where the benefits really start to show up.
Remember to use your new breathing technique any time you are feeling stressed or anxious, before making a presentation, or prior to speaking out in anger. You will be amazed at how much more calm and centered you feel!