Breathing is something we’ve obviously all been doing since the day we were born. So of all the things you do on any given day, the last one you might think you need to practice would be breathing. It sounds almost counter-intuitive then, that there’s more to breathing than first meets the eye.
Good breathing habits means each breath is smooth, steady and controlled. You should not have to strain or force it. Your breath should be mostly silent with no wheezing or rumbling in your lungs.
Although there are a surprising number of muscle groups involved in drawing every breath you take, your diaphragm drives and controls much of the process. It tightens with each inhale to allow your lungs to expand into the space in your chest.
Better breathing habits mostly come down to an increased mindfulness. Your body knows what to do. However, if you focus on and practice good breathing habits, you’ll find that over time it will take less exertion to breathe, even when you’re under stress or working out.
You’ll also strengthen your diaphragm over time, slow down your natural breathing rate, and decrease the amount of oxygen you need. All of those are good things. Best of all, it’s something you can do from the comfort of home in ten minutes or less a day.
Here’s a simple, quick diaphragm exercise you can do starting today:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and a comfortable pillow placed under your head.
- If you want or need to, place a second pillow under your knees for added support.
- Place one hand on the upper part of your chest and your other hand just below your rib cage. This will enable you to feel your diaphragm as it moves.
- Inhale slowly, breathing through your nose, feeling your stomach expand.
- Engage your stomach muscles, draw them toward your spine as you exhale through your mouth
- Repeat for a period of five to ten minutes.
If you take the time to do this every day, you’ll find that you breathe easier and feel better all day long!