Are you sure you are capable of breathing? This may seem like a strange question considering that we all have been inhaling and exhaling since birth. In reality, however, many of us do not breathe in a manner that is of optimum benefit to the body.
What are the most common breathing mistakes we are prone to?
- Taking shorter and more frequent breaths
- Breathing that is unsupported by the diaphragm, the main muscle that facilitates respiration
- Not being aware of how we breathe
Why does breath become short?
Stress, poor posture and other bad habits (like breathing from the mouth) lead us to take short breaths, which only employ the upper part of the chest. When the mind is in a state of frenzy, we can also experience apnea, the term used to describe stunted respiratory airflow.
The importance of breathing well
Conscious deep breathing and breath training are among the best ways to reduce the above-mentioned negative influences on the body. When we practise deep breathing exercises for at least five minutes a day, we can train ourselves to perform only six breaths per minute. This technique is a great way to calm down and create physiological changes like lowering blood pressure, improving oxygen saturation, reducing anxiety and better managing chronic pain.
Learning to channel deep breathing
Picture a river: if there are boulders in its path, the flow of water is disrupted from its usual course. Just like a river, our energy flows better when we are able to remove the ‘blocks’ in its path. For example, when we are tense, there are ‘energy blocks’ in our shoulders, neck, hips and back; these energy blocks need to be removed for us to work to our full potential or concentrate properly.
And concentration is the key to breathing better. To get there, we need to first re-establish a correct flow of energy by releasing tension – this starts with fuller, slower breaths. Just as our breath becomes superficial when we are in a rush, it can likewise slow down when we focus on relaxing, thereby decelerating the speed of our thoughts and our heart rate.
But it is not enough to simply ‘slow down’ – we need to do so in specific ways:
- First, by inhaling exclusively through the nose
- Second, by lengthening inhalation and exhalation to at least five seconds each
- Third, by decreasing the intensity of the breath sound
If we incorporate these techniques into our daily routine, we can develop a great habit that factors perfectly into our holistic wellness goals.
Of course, there are more activities and techniques that can further strengthen breathing for optimum health and concentration. If you are keen to learn some of them, check out our classes at Maya Blu Yoga Studio in Dubai.
Written by Flavia De Simone, Founder, Maya Blu Yoga Studio