Jan 9, 2013

Back To Basics: The Right Way to Breathe

Breathe Deeply
Breathe Deeply

You'd probably snort and skip reading this article. Or you're probably wondering if there's another way of breathing aside from taking in air and expelling that again either through the nostrils or the mouth.  After all, breathing comes to us so naturally that most of the time, we are unaware of doing it. It's some form of natural reflex for survival, something we hardly have any need for tips on how to do it.  Remember how an infant gasps for air for the first time and gives that shrill cry?  We knew it the moment we were born, right? 

Humor me and try to do this little exercise:
  • Sit down in your natural, relaxed posture. 
  • Put one hand on your tummy. 
  • Now take a few normal breaths, the way you are used to.  If you want to take a few deep breaths, be my guest.  That would make it more obvious for the next step.
  • Observe: When does your belly expand and contract?  Hold that answer for a while.
If you happen to have an infant lying around somewhere in your household or your neighbor's house, try and see how the baby breathes, particularly if he or she is asleep.  If both you and the infant have your bellies expanding upon inhaling and contracting once you exhale, then congratulate yourself.  You're still breathing the right way at your present age.  If however you're doing the opposite, as most adults are, don't be too hard on yourself.  A lot of us are chest breathers or what they call thoracic breathers.  Somewhere between infancy and our present age, we've morphed into that.  Normally, we all started as diaphragmatic or abdominal breathers.


If we knew instinctively how to breathe properly, how did we end up doing it the wrong way?

It could be for a lot of reasons, but one culprit is stress.  Stress can cause tightening of muscles and somehow, some normal body functions try to compensate.  An interesting article enumerates eight reasons why we end up with poor breathing.  It says there that some actually try to suck in their abdomens to try and hide the pot bellies or have their stomachs appear flatter (seriously guilty of this). But whatever the reason, it's enough to know that chest breathing is not the proper way to breathe.

Why is chest breathing unhealthy?

Well, for one, it further increases your stress level.  Try sucking in your stomach all the time and tell me it's not stressful (lol!).  But seriously, take a few deep breathes right now.  You find that relaxing, right?  It gives you a feeling of well-being and a certain calm that promotes relaxation. Chest breathing is opposite of that.  Chest breathing promotes shallow breathing and it stresses the nervous system in steady increments.  Furthermore, we forget to use the diaphragm so we end up utilizing only the upper and middle part of the lungs.  That action strains the lungs repeatedly.

Should I revert to diaphragmatic breathing?

My classmate in Tai ji tells me to take deep breaths at certain intervals during the day to help with my hypertension.  I know deep breathing is good and relaxing, and yet I forget that, except when I am out of breath after running or doing a strenuous activity.  I think there is some merit in her advise and I could start with that.  I got to practice using my diaphragm for breathing again, not for singing but for better health.

To answer the question above, it's actually a personal decision you have to make for your own.  As for me, I'm practicing it already since last night before I fell asleep.  It takes a very conscious effort on my part but I hope to someday breathe properly the natural way.  I'm going back to the basics and I feel I could benefit a lot by doing something I have ignored for quite sometime.



48 comments:

  1. this post clarifies a lot, i think sometimes i don't breath as it should be hahaha
    thanks for sharing

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  2. i was having this difficulty in breathing back in college, i feel pain in my right shoulder... this wrong breathing might be the one causing it.. i lost that when i started running... :D

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  3. Hello Aileen. Daddy got a pair of running shoes from her sister's MIL. Ako wala pa. Hehe. About breathing, I just want to share that deep breathing help me during the time I am in labor with Matt. Nabasa ko kasi it will me with the pain and it's true, hindi ako masyado nasaktan. Hehe...

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  4. I've been wanting to research about how to properly breathe when lifting weights/exercising because of your post. These is informative.



    Btw, your comment about the disable right click message made me giggle. Pero sis mga Pinoy lang makaka-relate. But I'm seriously thinking of changing it soon para maiba naman ;P


    -Farida

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  5. I should try practicing this too, tonight before hitting the bed. :)

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  6. Rosemarie/Gven-RoseJanuary 10, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    breathing comes naturally na hindi talaga natin na papansin.. I shall try this tips with the little one and see what happen..hehehehe

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  7. I learned about this, too, not in health class but in speech class. Fortunately, I'm still an abdominal breather.

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  8. im breathing properly! wooot. hahaha XD

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  9. To kick off our running goal, my friend and I planned to run last Monday for a start but unfortunately it rained. Yikes! nagka-dahilan tuloy na hindi mag-run. hehehe

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  10. i usually got into right breathing 1) to elevate my palpitation 2) to increase oxygen and 3) to make me feel more relax.

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  11. Seems like I'm not breathing the proper way! Thanks for another informative post, Aileen. Gonna breath the right way starting today, I just need some practice pa!

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  12. I would love to run in the rain...except that it would ruin my rubber shoes hehehe. Pwede siguro barefoot running.

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  13. Yes sis, yung Taiji classmate ko she does deep breathing because of palpitations. I am practicing that now, even when I am relaxed.

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  14. Yes sis, it does help because deep breathing relaxes us. In doing so, we are less agitated and the pain is less heightened.


    I do hope you get your running shoes na rin....would be nice to have a family run, tag along little Matt... It's good to start him early on fitness di ba?

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  15. Sis, it's not that easy pala. Am trying, but it takes a conscious effort...will keep practicing until this becomes a habit

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  16. That's great Maan!

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  17. Let's keep running then. :-)

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  18. It helps a lot especially when I feel I am palpitating.

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  19. Very informative. How do you breathe pala when running so that you wont get tired fast?It is so hard to concentrate on breathing when lawit na dila hihi

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  20. Michelle Villarta-CabanasJanuary 11, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Another important lesson to be learned from you Aileen. Thank you. I do hip-hop-abs on DVD as my form of exercise and the first thing that's taught there is proper breathing which is very important in any form of exercise for air circulation. At times I just skip it and do directly to my usual thing but in the end I find myself panting because I haven't done my breathing exercise. But I guess I have to end that now. :-)

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  21. Rosemarie/Gven-RoseJanuary 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    I shall try this breathing as I have been stress for the past couple of weeks. - Singlemom Reviews

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  22. Wow, Aileen! This is really fun to do! Yeah we have been breathing since the day we were born but it pays to know how to do breathing properly. LOL We did breathing exercises back in grad school then when we were taught how to speak through a microphone. :)

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  23. Interesting info about breathing. I agree that breathing deeply does help relaxing and reducing stress.

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  24. Great info! I'm glad that I still breathe the proper way. I actually practice deep breathing sometimes as part of my warm up exercise before going for a jog. Now I think I have to do it more frequently. Thanks for the info. :)

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  25. I heard about that too a long time ago. I guess I just need to rethink how I breathe.

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  26. this post make me think if i breath properly haha
    like your tips

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  27. I agree. this is where everyone should start!

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  28. i learned proper breathing when I attended bikram yoga. I realized that I am not breathing properly. I had to practice to get the correct technique.

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  29. I believe that this is the closest way for me to exercise. I need this - I'll be trying it tomorrow morning. Breathing properly is really essential to us women, especially for a mom like me who do a lot of things.

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  30. When I was reading through your 2nd paragraph I was literally trying to check how my breathing is. Turns out I'm doing the correct way of breathing. I sing and it's different naman when you inhale to use the diaphragm to modulate the voice. Different techniques, different uses. As of writing, I still have not started running for the year. I hope I have the same discipline as you!

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  31. We truly forget to breathe deeply most times. And according to a parenting seminar I attended, deep breathing is important to increase patience toward our children.

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  32. there was a time that an exercise video on breathing was popularized. I do not know how effective but you are supposed to lose weight through breathing exercises.

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  33. Got my running shoes just like Mommy said in her comment. I might start my jogging regime again.
    I heard that proper breathing also helps in burning calories because of the oxygen. I'll try searching for it more since my goal this year is to hit the 75 mark on the scale. I'm 7 over that mark.

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  34. I learned this thing , proper breathing, while I am studying to play the trumpet. Yes I am a musician and plays the trumpet for a certain marching band :). Thanks for the above breathing tips.!

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  35. Wonderful share on yogic breathing. It is the foundation to good health too... TY!

    Eliz bc blogger - http://positivekismet.blogspot.com/

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  36. Wow a trumpet...I once tried to learn the flute...but I am hopeless with wind instruments. I get lightheaded so I'm sticking with stringed instruments and probably venture to percussion hehehe...

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  37. Hope you hit your mark for this year!

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  38. As I was writing this, I thought of you and I would bet anything that you are breathing the right way because you sing...and I was right yey! I think I know why I reverted to the wrong way of breathing...hyperventilation. I get light headed talaga during choir practice when we had to do breathing exercises hehehe. But I am practicing now, to exercise the diaphragm, but not for singing, like I said. :-)

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  39. Ah yes, in yoga, they do breathing exercises.

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  40. Yes, more like making it the norm instead of just whenever we remember to breathe deeply.

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  41. I learned the value of deep breathing while doing my 5K runs...

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  42. Hahaha...when I already have my tongue lolling out, that's when I remember to take deep breaths...which is wrong...hehehhe...Well, if you can't do it while running, walk a while and take deep breaths...

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  43. I'm not sure of what the proper way is when lifting weights or exercising...but I guess you have to time it according to the movement. In Tai ji, we were told to breathe in as we start a movement and breathe out when finishing that movement...but of course Taiji does slow moves...for vigorous movements, I think it's different.

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  44. I realized I have not followed your blog yet sis. Now, I just did! :)

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  45. Followed you back at Nails and Colors :-)

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  46. I have been telling myself to breathe right pero I am not always aware that I go back to chest breathing. Even when i was taking voice lessons, lagi ko sya nakakalimutan. Although I agree that it promotes well being and it makes me calmer.

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  47. Thank you for sharing this! I just took a couple of deep breaths and it really helps. Lalo na inuubo ako ngayon. Pero you're right breathing exercises really help de-stress, and focus.

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