Are you breathing right? Indeed, there’s a wrong way of breathing, and it’s how most people have been breathing. This is when you breathe in to your chest, while sucking in your stomach. Whether out of vanity, or whatever reason you may conjure, such a method of breathing is inefficient, and doesn’t give you as much oxygen as you can have to function well. So then, what is the right way of breathing?
1. The Lower Lungs are Better Breathers
From birth, our natural breathe pattern is through the lower parts of our lungs. When babies breathe, the rising and falling of their bellies are evident, showing that they breathe in through the diaphragm rather than stopping at the chests. This is called diaphragmatic breathing and is the natural way humans breathe, where it is the most efficient way we take in oxygen. This is due to fact that the greatest amount of blood flow occurs in the lower parts of the lungs, not the chest area. Thus, rapid, shallow chest deep breaths result in less oxygen being transferred to the blood, leading to a lack of delivery of nutrients to the tissues. Thus, if you make diaphragmatic breathing a habit, you’ll be able to sustain exercise and your daily activities with less effort.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing Increases Lung Capacity
When we breathe in, we can take in up to two gallons of air with one breath. However, we don’t usually take in two gallons of air in a single breath, but instead, we take more breaths than necessary. However, each breath we take requires energy, so if we learn to take in more air with each breath, we reduce the need for more breaths and in turn, waste less energy, which is good when you’re exercising. This is where diaphragmatic breathing comes in. When you don’t breathe with your diaphragm, it sticks close to your ribs, thus reducing your ability to take in air. However, breathing through to your diaphragm causes it to pull away from your ribs, creating a vacuum effect which pulls air into the space created by the diaphragm. This is where the lungs take in the most oxygen, and it also helps us to be able to take in more air with each breath.
3. Diaphragmatic Breathing Reduces Stress
Stress has become a constant in our world today. We find many ways to alleviate stress, but one of the simplest and most efficient things you can change to help you relieve stress is your breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing, in fact, helps lower our blood rates and in turn, our blood pressure. Furthermore, if we relax our breathing, we’ll be able to pacify the brain’s production of stress hormones. This gives the body a chance to recuperate and repair any stress hormones already in the body.
How to train yourself to breathe with your diaphragm:
The ideal is to reset your default way of breathing, that you will revert to a natural pattern of diaphragmatic breathing even when you’re not conscious of it. This can be done by training your breath, with the following steps.
- Lying with your back on the ground, place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest.
- Empty your lungs of air.
- With your next breath, breathe into your diaphragm. Feel your hand on the tummy lift with that breath. Exhale, and repeat three times.
- Subsequently, breathe into your ribs, the place between your two hands. You can feel your ribs expand in all directions. Exhale, then repeat three times.
- Now, breathe into your heart space, at the top of the chest. Feel it rising to your chin. Exhale, then repeat three times.
- Finally, combining all three, breathe a third of the breath into your tummy, a third into the ribs, and a third into your heart space. When exhaling, do so from the heart first, then the chest, then your tummy. On your next inhale, breathe one-third of your breath into your belly, one-third of your breath into your ribs and one-third of your breath into your heart space. Exhale from the heart first, then the ribs, then the belly. Repeatthree times.
Do you feel how much control you have over your breath? This practice will help you feel how your breath should travel, and how it works its way up.