I Know How To Breathe, Right?
Of course you know how to breathe, you probably breathe in and out about 15 times in a minute and have done so since birth. At that rate you should be an expert by now right?
I always feel surprised when I learn something new about something I thought I knew everything about. I mean, the one thing I have done more than anything else is breathe right so I’ve got to be doing it correctly…. Right??
First of all, learning to breathe is all about noticing when your breath is shallow and taking a few minutes to reconnect to the breath. It’s even more helpful to activate the breath a few times a day so that its relaxing impact on the parasympathetic nervous system is ongoing.
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Living in a global pandemic for the last two years, wearing a mask in our jobs or in our daily lives has been part of getting dressed. But do we look at how it affects our breathing? I have found my clients all have this one thing in common, shallow breathing. So we have been working on breathing properly and when you do it properly you’ll feel the difference and when you keep doing it properly, pretty soon you’ll do it properly without thinking about it.
How To Breathe
When you breathe in, your rib cage helps to expand your lungs, and your belly should fill up.
When you breathe out, your lungs contract, your rib cage contracts, and your belly should go in.
So let’s try it;
Take a few breaths….
Did you notice how you breathe?
Does the breath stop at your chest or does your belly rise at inhale?
Are you using your neck and chest muscles to pull your chest up so you can fill your lungs or are you using your diaphragm?
Breathe into the belly and fill it with air, expand and breathe into the ribs, filling the ribcage with air, and finally breathe into the chest, filling the chest with air. With each breath, fill the stomach, ribs, and chest with air and as you exhale go in the opposite direction, releasing air from the chest, ribs, and stomach.
Now, take a deep breath in, then breathe out.
Continue breathing this way for 5 minutes. This is a good breathing technique. Work to train your muscles to breath the proper way for maximum oxygen intake. That oxygenated blood is what cures and heals.
Sitting for a few deep breathing sessions a day is a great tool in dealing with chronic stress. Plus, it helps you feel better and places you square in the present moment, where all the good stuff happens.
Alternating Nostril Breathing
Here’s a great exercise. Cover the right nostril and inhale for 1-2-3, hold for 1-2-3, and cover the left nostril exhaling out of the right nostril for 1-2-3. Inhale into the right nostril (covering the left nostril) for 1-2-3, hold for 1-2-3, exhale releasing the nostril. Switch back and forth like this for 10 minutes. Alternative nostril breathing is a great exercise to try before meditation. It helps to calm the entire central nervous system down making it easier to sit for a period of time in meditation.
Inhale for 1-2-3 and exhale for 1-2-3-4-5. Keep breathing this way for five minutes. You can add counts to the inhales and exhales, but just make sure that the exhale is longer than the inhale. By having longer exhalations than inhalations you can calm the body down almost instantaneously. This is a good breath technique to try when you’re feeling an acute stress response coming on and you want to slow down the central nervous system immediately.