Without noticing, using a bad breathing technique can be ruining your sleep time, digestion, muscles, cardiac rhythm, concentration and mood to name a few. This article will provide the reader with 5 ways to breath properly. These are all proven and correct techniques. Before that, let’s set a basic parameter of what we consider ‘correct’ breathing. By ‘correct’ we mean breathing in a physiologically optimal way for the proper functioning of our bodies and its organs. That is to say, the manner in which we are designed to breath, we do so unconsciously. However, not everyone breathes efficiently. A few examples of inefficient breathing would be rapid breathing (hyperventilation), holding one’s breath and breathing superficially.
These breathing patterns put a lot of stress on the body and produces a shortage in oxygen and energy. The solution to these issues is to become highly conscious about our breathing and make proper modifications. Below, we will review some basic principles of proper breathing.
Breathe through your nose: Oxygen should enter via the nose. The function of the nose is to prepare incoming air in order to be used by the body as best as possible. When we breathe through our mouths, the lungs obtain cold, unfiltered air full of viruses and bacteria. If you feel you nose as if it was congested when you close your mouth, its very likely that for a long time you have had your mouth open and the nose has gotten used to this bad habit. Begin breathing air through the nose and it will be good for your lungs.
– Breath through the diaphragm: Inhaled air through the nostrils must run through the thoracic trunk and the abdominal zone. The muscles in charge of respiration are comprised of the diaphragm, chest, neck and shoulder muscles. Between 60-84% of respiration must be diaphragmatic to obtain what is considered a profound inhalation. Breathing this way has a series of advantages: It helps realize an effective gaseous exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. The diaphragm ‘massages’ the liver, stomach and intestines, keeping a rhythmic balance. The lymphatic system also benefits from the oxygen. The pressure in the chest and abdomen is also reduced, diminishing the need for more cardiac work. Muscles receive more oxygen and reduces pain in the neck and shoulder areas during exhalation.
– Relaxed breathing: Keeping a state of relaxation helps us perform tasks in a better way. Our breathing reflects our thoughts and physical well-being. A stressed body manifests itself with stressful breathing, which leads to an inadequate supply of oxygen, lower concentration and more stress. Taking control of our breathing, inhaling slowly, deeply and steadily lowers our anxiety levels, improves our mood and general health.
How to Breathe Adequately?
After reviewing the above principles of proper breathing, let’s see how we can improve our current breathing pattern in 5 simple steps:
- Breathe consciously: Be aware of the manner in which you are breathing throughout the day. A good idea is to set an alarm on your phone to go off every hour and ask yourself, ‘Am I breathing through my nose? Is my diaphragm and thoracic cage expanding with each inhalation? Do I feel relaxed?’. If this is not the case, you need to modify the situation and make adjustments to your breathing.
- Breath through your nose: With your mouth shut, elevate your tongue to the roof of your mouth, this will allow physiological breathing which means inhalation and exhalation will exclusively be via the nose.
- Extend exhalation: This helps to increase relaxation and makes inhalation more profound and rhythmic. Perform the following exercise:
1) Inhale and count to 3
2) Exhale and count to 4
3) Pause for 2 or 3 seconds.
- Keep your back straight: An erect posture permits an efficient diaphragmatic respiration and prevents back pain in the lumbar region.
- Listen to your body: Be aware of how tense or relaxed you are in different situations. A relaxed body maintains tranquil and calm respiration.
Remember, a correct breathing technique improves your health by providing sufficient oxygenation to all the cells in our organism, so give yourself a breather!