If you breathe like a baby does, then you’re doing it well. However, chances are you’re not. Right now you’re probably thinking “of course I am breathing”, but my question to you is “are you consciously breathing?”
Here are some reasons for you to start get the basics right. Three minutes without oxygen or air, your brain will be in trouble. You can survive without food or water for a lot longer than 3 minutes. The point I make is that we can do quite well without most things, but we cannot exist, for long, without inhaling and exhaling.
All of our physiological systems are dependent upon breathing for life. If we are not getting enough oxygen into our lungs it triggers an alarm reaction. Even how we do it influences our blood gas ratio (oxygen to carbon dioxide ).
If we inhale and exhale too fast, or hyperventilate, and get too much oxygen, that will stimulate the fight or flight reaction (sympathetic nervous system) and the leading contributor to anxiety.
Conversely, if we take in oxygen too slowly, we can also trigger a fight or flight reaction. A lot of people will hold their breath as a reaction to stress.
You would be surprised by the symptoms that breathing pattern disorders can cause common problems from muscle spasms, digestive troubles, sleeping disorders, cognitive dysfunctions, and neurological symptoms just to name a few.
Breathing is very important to maintain your ph levels (the acidity/alkalinity) in the body. If you’re not breathing properly then, either way, you’re going to be overly alkaline or overly acidic, both of which cause problems in the body.
A key problem for people is the consumption of processed foods – for example, white sugar. White sugar can acidify the blood quite quickly so as a defence mechanism we unconsciously start to hyperventilate to produce an alkalising effect on the blood. I make reference to this because it is almost impossible to correct a person’s breathing disorder if there is too much sugar in their diet.
So if you’re genuinely wanting to improve your breathing and health, you need to start with reducing the amount of simple or refined carbohydrates you consume such as soft drinks, lollies, chocolate, sugars. All these so-called ‘tasty treats’ use additives to replace fat in an attempt to make them palatable.
Breathing is important to our physiology. Breathing properly has a huge effect on our psychology as it is directly linked to how energy flows through our meridian system. “Faulty breathing” is linked to a large number of health problems, costing people and society millions of dollars daily because of lost time, productivity and costly medical bills. Stress causes disruption to our breathing patterns.
So how do I inhale and exhale properly?
To start retraining yourself to breathe your way back to good health, place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. Now start practicing expanding your belly which means to basically let your diaphragm drop. Your diaphragm sits under your rib cage, and as you inhale the diaphragm contracts which produces a negative pressure in the thorax that causes a vacuum drawing air into your body.
As we inhale the diaphragm contracts and needs to have the ability to drop. For this to happen your stomach will have to be able to expand outward. It is extremely important for men and particularly women who hold their stomachs in for aesthetic reasons to know this can lead to serious breathing pattern disorders and breathing-related problems which often get misdiagnosed.
To complete a belly breath place one hand on your belly and the other hand on your chest, the first 2/3 of your breath the hand on your belly should be moving and only on the last 1/3 of your breath the hand on the chest should start to move. On the exhale, just simply relax and make sure you get that breath out fully. Most people don’t fully exhale. I am not asking you to force it out, however, whilst you practice your new breathing pattern quite simply on your exhale use your abdominals to empty that air out so that you move all the stale air out of your body during your exhalation, then inhale and simply repeat the process.
Make it a regular practice, as it will take time to retrain your breathing pattern to where you no longer focus on the breathing exercise. Remember it takes approximately 30 days to redevelop new movement or breathing patterns.
The great news is that if you become reactive to your environment and start to become anxious, implement or shifting your focus to these new patterns will bring calmness to your body quickly.