Believe it or not, most people don’t know how to breathe. Of course we all do it, but most of us don’t do it right. With a little practice, proper breathing will become second nature, and it will improve your mental and physical health as well as your stamina.
Most of us are rapid, shallow breathers. We raise our shoulders, pull in our diaphragm, and take a breath that fills only the top portion of our lungs.
How to Breathe Correctly
When you breathe properly, your diaphragm, your stomach, and your ribcage expand, not the pectoral area. Fully exhaling is important, too. Remember, you are breathing in oxygen rich air and releasing carbon dioxide and toxins.
Have you ever watched babies breathe? Their stomachs rise, and their rib cages fully expand with each breath they take. Watch and learn.
Benefits of Breathing Properly
Every cell in our body requires oxygen to survive. Higher oxygen levels increase function and are vital for good health. Many of the most effective natural treatments for life-threatening diseases focus on oxygenating the cells. The easiest way to get more oxygen into your body and in every cell of your body is to breathe properly.
Proper breathing dramatically increases stamina and mental clarity, elevates your mood, and helps the body detoxify more efficiently (more toxins are released through breathing than through the pores, urination, and defecation combined).
Learn How to Breathe
In ancient martial arts, it is said that the student spends months or years learning how to breathe and to heal before he learns to defend himself.
Practice by expanding your belly while breathing in. Fill your entire lungs with air. Pull in your belly when you exhale. Breathe slowly and deeply. When you practice this technique, try to take four breaths per minute. Think quality over quantity. Breathe only through your nose for several minutes. Then inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth for several minutes.
Practice deliberate breathing as often as possible. Use it when you exercise, when you’re trying to go to sleep, and when you realize you are stressed. And it’s a great tool when you’re trying to hold your temper. Though it will take practice and effort for proper breathing to become a habitual, unconscious act (four days to three weeks), in time, it will become as easy as breathing (pun intended).
*Image of “deep breathing” via Shutterstock