Learn how to do it and you will feel energized and calmer when you breathe!
Many people breathe with the upper part of the lungs only. This can be due to habit or tension in the stomach muscles and the diaphragm. Unfortunately, this type of breathing is not the best.
The full diaphragmatic breathing (or the complete yoga breath) relaxes mind and body and supplies oxygen and energy to the whole body.
If you suffer from asthma you may be unable initially to take in very deep breaths. In this case, simply breathe in as much as is comfortable and safe for you.
- Start by sitting upright in a chair or lying on the floor with head and knees supported by cushions.
- Breathing slowly, using the diaphragm, chest and clavicle area, draw in, through the nose, as much air as possible, as slowly as possible. Start by first filling the diaphragm area. Place your hands on your stomach and feel it expand as you breath in deeply. Keep breathing in slowly and fill the chest cavity and finally raise the clavicles to allow in the maximum possible amount of air. This will ensure that the body gets an increased amount of oxygen, which it will use to burn up nutrients delivered to the body tissues. The brain will benefit from the added oxygen and a general feeling of relaxation and well-being will be achieved.
- Hold the breath for a few seconds, as this will allow the lungs to use up as much of the inhaled oxygen as possible.
- Then very slowly breathe out through the mouth. Empty the lungs as completely as possible to expel the maximum amount of carbon dioxide, as this will leave the lungs ready to take in extra oxygen in the next in-breath.
Practise this several times, but stop if you feel dizzy or start to hyperventilate.
A Quick Note On Why You May Feel Dizzy
If you have been in the habit of shallow breathing for some time (as a lot of people are) suddenly breathing fully will be a bit of a shock to the system. This is normal and nothing to worry about. Take it slowly. You are effectively re-training your body how to breathe. This is what we should be doing naturally, the problem is that most of us have ‘unlearned’ how to breathe properly, fully and in the best way for our health. Practicing the exreicse lying down is the least likely position to cause any dizzyness, but do take it slowly and retrain your body a little at a time.
Back To The Breathing Exercise
Use a ratio of 2:1 when breathing, e.g. breath in for 4 seconds (or 6), hold for 2 (or 3), breath out for 4 (or 6) and hold for 2 (or 3) before the next breath.
This type of breathing not only energizes the whole body but also relaxes the muscles of the upper body because you alternately expand and contract the diaphragm, chest, lung and shoulder areas. This, in turn, will lead to relief from tension, headaches, back and neck aches and stiff shoulders.
Use this type of breathing several times a day to get used to breathing correctly and also use it at the first sign of anxiety or a panic attack coming on.