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Take a Breath

mindbodyworks
Heike Zelnhefer
Take a deep breath in! Breathe out! Sounds easy enough, right? Breathing is natural, it happens automatically. Yes but the question is, are you breathing correctly?
When we are born, we automatically breathe the right way; we breathe deep into our belly. If you have the opportunity to watch a baby sleep and breathe, you will see that the belly is moving up and down. As we grow older though, we start breathing more into our chest. Are you wondering where am I going with this? You may think, " So what?! No big deal. I'm breathing, ain't I? "

Well, breathing into your upper chest vs. your belly (abdomen) does not utilize the entire lung capacity. Therefore, less oxygen is being transported into our body. Our muscles and our brain are not getting the oxygen supply our body needs.

To do this, sit straight or lie down, then place one hand on your chest and the other one on your abdomen. Take a deep breath in and then breathe out. Repeat for at least 3 times before returning to your own breathing rhythm.


Did you notice which hand was moving up and down while you were breathing? Did the hand on your chest move or the hand on your belly?


Depending on which hand was moving, you are either a chest or abdominal breather.


If you are a chest breather , you may want to know that there are benefits of diaphragmatic breathing (breathing into your belly or abdomen):


  • Increased blood flow due to the increased oxygen supply to the brain
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slows down breath rate
  • Releases carbon dioxide
  • Calmer feeling
  • Better concentration
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Reduced Anxiety and panic disorders
  • Better digestion due to the diaphragm moving up and down which functions as a massage for the internal organs
There is a simple technique to re-learn how to breathe correctly :

Start by lying flat on your back with one hand placed on your chest and the other one on your abdomen between your navel and your ribs. Breathe in and out and allow your breath to flow all the way to the bottom of your lungs. Try not to move your chest! If you have difficulty with breathing into your abdomen, try taking a book such as a text book, place it onto your chest to serve as a weight to keep you from breathing into your chest.

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