Breathing Is Good For You.
Breathing is good for you!! Ok, so there’s nothing startlingly new about that statement!
However, did you know that the majority of us don’t actually breathe properly? I didn’t know that either – after all I’ve been doing it for fifty (something) years and I thought I was quite good at it. Most of us tend to do chest breathing – when we breathe our chest rises and falls – which doesn’t actually oxygenate the blood as much as it should. Diaphragmatic, or abdominal, breathing, on the other hand, causes us to take deep, even breaths which results in our blood being flooded with all that lovely, rich oxygen that our body depends upon.
Here is your “how to” guide to breathing:
- Sit in a comfortable position in a chair, a dining room chair is perfect, so your back is upright and you are not slouching.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, to a count of 3 keeping your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little. It may help to gently place your hand on your abdomen and focus on that point when breathing in and out.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, to a count of 4. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
Repeat.? Remember, don't force your breath, just let it happen. If 3 counts is too slow for you, try 4 on the inward breath and 5 on the exhale. Find a pattern that works for you.
Now for the good part – the benefits of learning to breathe properly:
Helps Manage Stress & Anxiety
I think it’s fairly safe to say that, at the moment, most of us are experiencing more stress and anxiety than normal. Using the correct breathing techniques can be an enormous help when it comes to taking back control. When we’re anxious or stressed our breathing becomes shallow and constricted robbing the body of much needed oxygen, whereas long, deep breathing reverses this and helps to calm and relax us.
- When you breathe deeply, your body releases the feel-good hormone, endorphins, which are a natural painkiller.
- Increases Your Energy Levels
- Deep breathing increases blood flow, which means that more oxygen is whizzing around the body increasing your energy levels.
As we’ve discovered, deep breathing increases the oxygen supply throughout your body, including the digestive system. Better blood flow results in an overall improvement in your digestion. Plus, of course, deep breathing will result in a calmer nervous system, which in turn will have a positive effect on the digestive system.
You know what they say “Practise makes perfect”! Start by spending just 5 minutes, a couple of times a day, practising your breathing, and you’ll soon start to reap the benefits.