I am involved with a women’s group at my church that meets weekly from September to April each year. The theme for this year is “Just Breathe”. Each week our leader has been sharing spiritual and practical teachings that inspire us to look at different areas of our lives and “Just Breathe”.
The health student in me started to think about how we breathe. Could we improve the way we breathe? The research began! It turns out that most of us don’t breathe properly. What? I thought this is just something our body does like our heart beat or digestion. It turns out that we do control our breathing, we just may not realize it.
What is the proper way to breathe? If you watch a newborn baby or an animal breathe while they are sleeping, you will see that they breathe steadily and effortlessly from their bellies. By the time we are four or five years old, we have already learned improper breathing habits.
As we grow older, we are taught to “suck in that gut” and “puff out that chest”, but this restricts oxygen intake which obviously is not good.
With efficient breathing, you can actually improve your health. Some of the positive effects of proper breathing are:
- Lowers heart rate
- Lowers blood pressure
- Increases blood oxygen levels
- Promotes clearer thinking
- Relieves stress (I know I can use this)
- Increases metabolism (this may help with weight loss)
- Improves circulation
- Supports detoxification
- Reduces acidity in the body (an acidic body has a greater tendency to develop chronic diseases)
So if we are not breathing correctly, how do we learn?
I tried a few breathing exercises and found that I am definitely not breathing right. I am sure it is because I always try to keep my stomach sucked in. We all want that flat belly don’t we? Well maybe that isn’t the best thing for our overall health. Mentally, this will be the greatest hurdle for me, but I am determined to improve my health and well-being in every way possible, one step at a time or maybe one breathe at a time!
I found a lot of sites that show proper breathing techniques. I tried a few different exercises, and I was a bit sore after doing all these exercises. Most sources suggest practicing proper breathing for 10 to 15 minutes per day, but even if you only practice one minute each hour, you will have noticeable benefits. I will practice the breathing techniques while at a stoplight or other random times during the day. My first step has to become aware of my breathing and now work on correcting it.
- Start by counting how many times you breathe each minute. In a relaxed sitting posture, most people breathe anywhere from 15 to 25 times a minute. (After practicing these exercises, your breathing rate may drop to as low as five times a minute, with a greatly increased level of oxygen use.)
- Lie down on either a bed or the floor. Place a fairly heavy book on your abdomen just below your navel.
- Breathe through your nose, inhaling in such a manner that you raise the book. When you exhale, also through your nose, the book should lower.
- Continue practicing this until this breathing pattern becomes natural.
I would encourage you try the above exercise and practice how you breathe. It is a simple step that we all can do. Let me know how you feel after trying these exercises.
Disclaimer: This website is for general information only. This information provided is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any health condition or problem. Do not rely on information provided here for your own health conditions. If you have specific questions regarding your own health, raise them with your primary care physician.