So far in Pt.1 we have looked at how to breathe correctly and how it helps our health, Pt.2 the article was about breathing and exercising, how to get the most from your body really!
The 5 Simple Principles of Proper Breathing
Now, I bring you to the actual principles of breathing correctly, all sounds as if it’s something that we all know, but working with many of my clients and helping their breathing to improve just by understanding how to breathe has made an improvement to their general wellbeing.
If you are not sure, if you are breathing correctly – read on…. it is also worth noting if you have children to see if they are breathing correctly, as if not – now is the time to help correct it!
Luckily, changing breathing habits isn’t all that complicated. All you have to do is adopt the following five simple principles, and be sure to make the most out of the 25,000 breaths taken every day:
1. Breathe through the nose
Every breath you take should go in and out through the nose. You can think of your nose as a little factory that refines and prepares the air coming in to be used by the body as efficiently as possible.
If you feel like your nasal passages are too tight to breathe through, that’s most likely because you’ve been breathing through your mouth for so long that your nose has adapted.
It usually won’t take more than a couple of days of nose breathing to open up your nostrils again.
2. Breathe with the diaphragm
The air you breathe in through your nose should go all the way down in your tummy. 70–80% of the inhaling should be done by the diaphragm so that your breathing is nice and deep. That has a couple of advantages:It helps your lungs with the gas exchange because it’s much more efficient in the lower parts of the lungs.
The diaphragm ”massages” your liver, stomach, and intestines, giving these organs a rhythmical balance.
The lymphatic system, which is important for your immune system, gets the help it needs to get rid of the waste products from the bowels.
The pressure in the chest and belly is decreased so that the heart won’t have to work as hard.
The chest becomes more relaxed, and so does the neck and shoulders. As a result, the likelihood of pain in these areas goes down.
3. Breathe relaxed
No matter what you want to do, you’ll do it better if you’re relaxed. Since your breathing reflects your thoughts and feelings, situations that make you feel tense also lead to tense and stressed breathing pattern. That way of breathing then leads to a lack of oxygen which, in turn, makes your body and brain even more stressed.
By taking control of your breathing and making it more relaxed, your body ”tunes in” and becomes relaxed as well, which leads to better functioning in general.When your body is relaxed, your health is good, and your energy is high, it becomes easier to be happy and loving toward yourself and others.
4. Breathe rhythmically
Everything has a natural rhythm — the ocean waves, the seasons, the moon. Your body is no different. The rhythm of your heart is measured in EKG and the brain in EEG.
The hormones in the body follow our natural rhythm. One example is melatonin that is released when you’re going to sleep.
Optimal breathing is no different: When everything is in tune, your body functions at it’s very best.
5. Breathe silently
Coughing, snoring, sniffling and so on, are suboptimal breaths in disguise.
It’s easy to neglect all these sounds we make, but a breathing pattern that contains a lot of them puts a considerable strain on the body.
The breath loses its rhythm, and we mess up principle number 4.
Before we sigh or cough, we usually take a big breath which leads to irregular breathing. Snoring means we have to compensate through breathing faster. A lot of us breathe quicker and louder when we talk, these noises and talking lead to incorrect breathing.
How to Breathe Properly
So, now you know that your habitual way of breathing is likely not very good for your health and well-being.
That is important information, but it won’t help you unless you implement the habit of proper breathing into your life.
Here’s how you can do that:
1. Create Recurring ”Breath Check Triggers”
Choose five naturally occurring triggers to remind you to become aware of your breath every day.
Formulate them as “plans” and spread them out throughout your day. If you find it helpful, you can also use reminders like post-it notes or phone alarms to remind you.
The important thing is you pause and adjust your breathing pattern several times every day.
2. Analyze Your Breathing Habits
To change something, you first need to become aware of what needs to be changed. So, pay attention to how you breathe in these different situations.
What’s your breath like at different times throughout the day? How does it change as your mental state changes? How do you breathe when you’re focused, angry, stressed, driving, watching TV etc.
Try to figure out when your breathing patterns are suboptimal and why it happens.
3. Adjust Your Breathing
Finally, adjust your breathing habits like this:
Breathe through the nose. Close your mouth and place your tongue up the palate.
Extend your exhale. Inhale for 2–3 seconds, exhale for 3–4 seconds, pause for 2–3 seconds and then repeat.
Make sure your body posture is upright.
Relax; become aware of any tensions going on at this moment and let them go.
Take a moment right now to adjust your breathing, and it will be much easier to remember how to do it later.
Finally let’s see what breathing correctly can do to aid our wellbeing….
When you deep breathe, the body releases endorphins, which are the feel good hormones and a natural pain killer created by the body itself.
Improves blood flow
When we take deep breaths, the upward and downward movement of the diaphragm helps remove the toxins from the body promoting better blood flow.
Increases energy level
Due to increased blood flow, we get more oxygen into our blood. Increased oxygen results in increased energy levels.
Believe it or not, bad posture is related to incorrect breathing. If you don’t believe, try it yourself. Try to breathe deeply and notice how your body starts to straighten up during the process. When you fill your lungs with air, this automatically encourages you to straighten up your spine.
A lot is said that diseases like cancer only thrive in bodies that are acidic in nature. Deep breathing is said to reduce the acidity in your body, thereby making it alkaline. Stress also increases acidity level in the body. Breathing also reduces stress and thus the acidity.
It detoxifies the body Carbon dioxide is a natural toxic waste that comes out from our body only through breathing. But when our lungs are compromised by shallow breathing the other detoxification system starts working harder to expel this waste. This can make our body weaker and lead to illness.
Stimulates lymphatic system
As our breathing is what moves the lymph, shallow breathing can lead to a sluggish lymphatic system which will not detoxify properly. Deep breathing will help you get the lymph flowing properly so that your body can work more efficiently.
Breathing deep supplies more oxygen to all our body parts including our digestive system, thus making it work more efficiently. The increased blood flow due to deep breathing also encourages intestinal action which further improves your overall digestion. In addition, deep breathing results in a calmer nervous system, which in turn also enhances optimal digestion.
Breathing relaxes mind and body
When you are angry, tensed or scared, your muscles are tightened and your breathing becomes shallow. Your breathing constricts. At this time your body is not getting the amount of oxygen it requires. Long deep breathing reverses this process, allowing your body and mind, to become calmer.
To be continued……..