By: Katia Silva, CSCS
Who would have thought that there are “proper” breathing techniques? Some really smart people! Breathing is one of the most natural mindless things humans do. Over time, our natural habits that we are born with change; mostly because of life factors such as negative stress. Many people will notice there shoulders begin to elevate and stay there, tension is carried through their necks, and breathing becomes shallower. Now, take notice of your own breathing patterns. Is your chest moving or is your belly expanding? Are you taking short shallow breaths? Or are you breathing slowly and fully?
Once you’ve figured it out, try following the next few steps to start using your breathing muscles. Take one hand; place it on your stomach and the other on your chest. Inhale through your nose, forcing your stomach to EXPAND. Think of it as inflating a balloon. Now, exhale through your mouth, trying to blow out 100 candles. Did you feel your abdominals active? If so, that’s what we want! After some practice it will become more fluid and effortless.
What we have described is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing. Proper breathing will help activate your abdominals, optimize your body’s ability to utilize oxygen, and decrease the effort it takes to breath naturally. Try this at night if you have trouble sleeping or if you ever start to feel anxious. It is a wonderful natural way to relax your mind and body.