Did you know, most of us do not breathe properly and this is causing a lot of health issues for many of us. This may surprise many, especially those who have never heard the concept of belly breathing. Here in this article, we will cover some well-researched tips to breathe properly.
When we are born, we breathe correctly with our belly but as we grow older and as we face day to day stress over a long period of time, our breath starts becoming smaller/ shallower. We start breathing from the chest instead of the belly.
Breathing shallow, from the chest and from the mouth are all incorrect ways to breathe.
- Practice taking full breaths. if you bring awareness towards your breath then you will notice that your breath is not complete. You are taking your next breath already before even completing the first one. So take a full and complete breath
- The above tip doesn’t mean you have to take an extra deep breath. Just complete your natural breath flow, nothing more or less.
- Do not breathe from the mouth.
- Sit straight and keep your posture upright and spine straight. This helps breathe better
- Breathe from the belly, not from the chest.
According to research by the University of Michigan, when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Daily stress can cause increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure and all of this can become better if you breathe deeply.
Breathing properly has a myriad of benefits such as less stress, better mental health, better relationships and much more. This also includes all the benefits of Mindfulness.
Belly breathing needs practice as we have been breathing wrong for a long period of time as adults. We’ve lost our natural way to breathe, hence, it will take some extra effort to bring back the normal correct breathing. Below is a video by a breathing health expert on how to practice belly breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing.
Begin by lying comfortably down on your back. Then put your hand on your belly just above the belly button. Now try to take a full breath in and out and let your hand move with it. Take a slow deep breath through your nose and feel your belly rise. Breathe out and feel your belly flatten. To make sure your chest does not move, you can place one hand on your chest.
Hand movement keep your awareness of breathing and help you focus on it. Make sure you do full breath in and out so if it’s 3 secs in then it should be 3 secs out.
Practice this every day for a few mins to bring it slowly into your daily breathing habit.
Benefits of Breathing Correctly
Did you know, longer & proper breathing leads to less number of breaths per minute which in turn helps us live longer as per Heather Callahan, Associate Director of Fitness & Programming.
An average person takes about 12-20 breaths in a minute. Let’s compare it with a tortoise. – they take an average of four breaths per minute. Comparing life spans, tortoises live an average of 98 years longer than human beings. Health research concludes – good breathing practices are positively correlated to decreased mortality risk.
Breathing practices bring you quickly to the present moment, which helps to reduce stress, symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD.
There are two main parts of your autonomic nervous system:
- Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – “Fight or Flight”
- Parasympathetic Nervous System (PSNS) – “Rest and Digest”
Fight or flight is what we do during stress. Rest and digest are what we do when we are in a relaxed state. Proper breathing activates PSNS which means your mind and body will be at rest and have better digestion. This helps your overall bodily functions.
Proper breathing improves our stress resilience which is our body’s natural reaction to stress. The way we react to stress is very important. Better stress resilience function means better management of stress, hence better health.
So, start practising deep breathing by following the above breathing tips.