Not to freak you out, but I know exactly what you’re doing right now. I’m not even a mind reader—it’s just something you do all the time, every single day. It’s breathing! And chances are, the way you breathe is all wrong.
Why do I think your breathing technique leaves a bit to be desired? Because that’s the case for most people.
In this post, I’m going to talk about how the way you breathe impacts your health. I’ll also share some tips for better breathing that you can implement TODAY to feel healthier and more energetic.
But first, let’s discuss some of the ways in which your breathing patterns influence your health.
Breathing and Your Health
You know that breathing is essential to life, but do you know why that’s the case?
The quick explanation is that breathing delivers oxygen to all of the body’s cells, while also getting rid of carbon dioxide.
Many of the other critical bodily functions that we take for granted—like digestion and muscle contraction—couldn’t happen without oxygen.
If you know someone with emphysema or other severe, chronic breathing problems, then you know how much of an impact poor breathing function can have on overall health.
But there is also a good way to breathe and a not so good way to breathe even for healthy people.
And the fact is, lots of people take shallow breaths into the chest rather than breathing deeply into the belly.
Why does this matter? Because shallow breathing doesn’t allow for the lower lungs to fully fill with air. And this breathing pattern can increase anxiety and perpetuate anxiety-driven healthy problems like high blood pressure and IBS.
Your Breathing Check-Up
Want to know if the way you breathe is making you feel like crap?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you a mouth breather?
- Do you often catch yourself holding your breath?
- In a normal day, do you sigh more than the star of a telenovela (even when your days are pretty drama-free)?
- Do you clench your teeth?
- Do you often feel anxious?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, your breathing patterns could probably use a little attention.
How to Improve the Way You Breathe
Want to take control of your breath AND your health starting right now?
Here are a couple of tips.
Use Your Nose
At some point, we became a society of mouth breathers. And that’s a real shame, because nasal breathing is so much better for your health.
Nasal breathing allows your diaphragm to expand. This, in turn, allows more oxygen to enter the lungs and flow to the arteries, veins, and nerves.
In addition to delivering more oxygen into your body, nasal breathing encourages slower respiration. This can actually lower the heart rate AND help fight anxiety and stress.
Finally, the nose humidifies, warms, and filters the air you breathe. Studies suggest that this simple change to the way you breathe can improve immune function and lower your risk of allergies.
In other words, shut your mouth!
Expand the Belly
Are you breathing through your nose?
Excellent! The next step is to inhale deep into your belly.
If you’re new to deep belly breathing, it might help to lie on your back in a quiet place.
You can check your breathing technique by placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest, and making sure the hand on your belly rises more than the one on your chest.
You can also place your hands on your sides, just below your rib cage, with your thumbs toward your back and your fingers on your upper belly. The goal here is to feel your belly expand in all directions.
Like any new skill, deep belly breathing takes practice! Setting aside a few minutes each day to practice will help you improve the way you breathe and also help you feel better in the process!
Nasal breathing deep into the belly is a step toward better health.
And can supercharge its effects by scheduling some intentional breathwork each day.
The easiest way is to simply inhale and exhale to a set rhythm. One example of this is box breathing, which involves inhaling, holding the breath, exhaling, and holding the breath again for the same duration each time (I like 5-6 seconds).
Why count your breaths? Because paying attention to your breath can help to trigger regions of the brain that regulate attention and emotion.
More specifically, focused breathwork can help you to mellow out if you’re stressed AND focus when the 3 p.m. slumps hit.
Best of all, breathwork is completely free and always available!
Want to Improve The Way You Breathe?
Interested in dialing in your breathing technique and seeing for yourself how to use breathwork to improve your health and mindset?
Our Breath and Exposure classes are a great way to try out some different breathing protocols and learn which work best for YOUR needs.
Click here to stay up to date on upcoming classes.
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