Do You Breathe Right?Jun 30, 2023 01:00PM ● By by Marty Twichell, E-RYT200, RYT 500, YACEP
Breathing is getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately. It is such an important component in good health, but so easy to take for granted or ignore. It is often under-valued and over-looked, and yet it can be life-changing. It’s interesting that many of us may have been “breathing to live” but not actually doing “healthy breathing”. So, what does it mean to be a healthy breather?
There are a number of components to healthy breathing. Here are some basic concepts to consider.
First, be a nose breather. As much as you can. Place the tip of your tongue at the back of your two front teeth, carpet the roof of your mouth with your tongue, keep your lips gently together and breathe—in and out through the nose. Relax the jaw, neck and shoulders.
Secondly, pay attention to what type of breathing you do. Do you tend to use your neck, shoulders, upper back and chest? If so, you might be using the secondary breathing muscles. They are involved with your breathing when you really need them, but they aren’t supposed to be your primary breathers.
Your primary breathers are your diaphragm and muscles attached to the ribs and your core muscles. This may be described a little differently by different authors, but the important thing is just to recognize that the breath usually needs to be located lower in our bodies. Let the belly soften in response to the movement of the diaphragm.
If softening the belly sounds weird to you, you may be constricting the movement of your breath and holding your belly too much. Try to relax your whole torso. Picture a fluid, moving breath that softens and strengthens the whole core group of muscles: front, back, side, bottom and top.
Avoid “over breathing”. Let your breath travel in and out comfortably and try not to do a lot of deep breathing, whether it is sighing or yawning.
Lastly, know that you are not alone. Some research identifies 80 percent of us as unhealthy breathers. Awareness is the first step to start to change that. Then we need to practice new behaviors and keep practicing.
Breathing exercises can help in a number of ways. Focusing on breathing can help with calming meditation. Getting to know your breath can help you be more connected to yourself. Breathing exercises can help you change unhealthy breathing patterns. They can even change the way you feel.
Get to know some breathing awareness techniques and exercises and try them on yourself. Yoga classes, tai chi, chi gong and martial arts classes are ways to get more familiar with your breathing. Singing or playing a wind instrument uses breathing exercises, since the activity requires being aware of the breath.
There are also some great books out there. A few recommendations for books include: Breath by James Nestor, The Breathing Book by Donna Farhi, The Yoga of Breath by Richard Rosen, Breathe by Dr. Belisa Vranich, The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown and Exhale by Richie Bostock.
Have a really fun journey exploring your breathing and becoming a healthy breather.
Marty Twichell, E-RYT200, RYT 500, YACEP, is a certified yoga instructor teaching through the Yoga Connection. Connect at 520-323-1222 or [email protected].