Proper breathing is important for our overall health but most will never give it a second thought. The problem with not thinking about it is that most of us are not doing it right. By being aware of how we are breathing, we can bring focus to our mind, help control physical responses, and improve performance.
-What does it mean to “breathe properly”?
The easy answer to this is to breathe with your diaphragm and stomach.
-Why don’t we breathe properly?
1. A lot of us sit more than what is healthy and normal for the human body. We work slouched over computers or desks which squishes our lungs and makes it hard to fill the lower portion with air.
2. We often suck in our stomachs to look trimmer and give the illusion of a flat stomach. This leads to upper chest breathing and discourages us from using our diaphragm and stomachs.
3. We don’t do enough cardio which encourages us to focus on our breathing.
4. When we are stressed with work and life, we tend to breathe shallow and fast. This makes bad breathing habits part of our everyday life.
-What are the benefits of breathing properly?
1. It relieves stress, tension, and anxiety from the body.
2. It helps to regulate emotions and can help stop panic attacks.
3. It helps to bring our heart rate into a range that is optimal for physical training.
4. It helps to detoxify the body.
5. It helps to oxygenate the body and all the organs to allow us to heal better and live longer.
6. Breathing into the diaphragm muscle helps to move and massage the inner organs. This aids in digestion and detoxification.
7. It helps to control your anger and fear to help you react properly.
8. It lowers the release of stress hormones into the bloodstream.
9. It can help us have better posture.
10. It helps us deal with pain.
11. It strengthens our lungs.
12. Oxygenating your lungs properly helps you to flex your muscles more intensely.
-What are good breathing techniques?
The first thing you should do is see how you are breathing. To see if you are breathing using your diaphragm, lie on your back and place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nostrils to a count of four. Is your stomach rising, or is your chest rising? Ideally, your stomach should be rising first. If your breath is deep enough, then your chest will follow.
The exhale is just as important. It is important to exhale as much as possible to clear all of the toxins. When you exhale, imagine your belly button pulling into your spine and pushing all the air out.
When practicing good techniques, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing in through your nose helps to slow the intake of air and breathing out through your mouth helps allow you to push through your diaphragm.
-Meditation and breathing
A daily meditation practice can help on many levels, especially when trying to focus on breathing. Find a comfortable quiet place to sit or lie, and focus on your breathing. If a distracting thought comes into your mind, acknowledge it, and move on from it, getting back to your breathing. It may take some time to get used to meditation and being able to push your thoughts out of your mind, but in the end, it will be worth it!
While meditating, work on a breathing technique called Box Breathing. Breathe in through the nostrils for a five-count, hold for a five-count, then breath out for a five-count, hold again for a five-count before breathing in again.
Proper breathing is so much more important than we think. Taking the time to start thinking about it can make a great difference in your health!
Emily Peterson, Massage Therapist