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Breathe like a baby? By A.J. Russell

Do you still breathe like a baby or have you forgotten how to?  Do you breathe deeply down into your belly/abdomen or shallow breathe into your upper chest? Take a moment and check in with your breath. You can see if you are a chest breather by placing your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your abdomen. As you breathe, see which hand rises more. If your right hand rises more, you are a chest breather. If your left hand rises more, you are an abdomen breather.

 

Chest breathing is an inefficient way to breathe because the greatest amount of blood flow occurs in the lower lobes of the lungs. Expanding the lungs’ air pockets will improve the flow of blood.  Abdominal, also called natural breathing, helps to prevent infection of the lung and other issues. But most of all this way of breathing will stimulate relaxation that results in less tension, stress and an overall sense of well being. You take in more oxygen breathing into your abdomen.

 

Many of us have forgotten how to breathe as we grow older. The increased amount of air from every breath will support your health and well being. During times of emotional stress our nervous system is stimulating a number of physical responses. Our breathing becomes rapid and shallow, heart rate rises, and muscles tense. If this process happens over a long period of time, the nervous system becomes over-stimulated leading to an imbalance that can affect our physical health. This inefficient way of breathing is normal for many and could result in health issues like high blood pressure, inflammation, and muscle pain to name a few.

 

The good news is that you can change how you breathe by improving your breathing practices. These breathing exercises can be done twice a day or whenever you are having upsetting thoughts or even when you are feeling pain. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. When you take a deep breath in through your nose, the hand on your belly should rise higher than the one on the chest.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. While inhaling slowly count to 7 then hold for a second, Exhale out slowly for an 8 count and make one extra push to empty your lungs fully. Again slowly inhale and count to 7, hold for a second then slowly exhale out through your mouth for a 8 count. Take that one extra push out at the end of the 8 count again.

 

It is important to remember that we deepen respiration by completely exhaling not by inhaling more. Afterwards relax and notice the way you feel.   Repeat the cycle 3 more times for a total of 5 deep breath cycles. Start practicing this regularly and you will be breathing from the abdomen most of the time, even while asleep. If a baby can do it, so can you!

(This article is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by physicians.)