In the last episode, I wrote on the basic physiology of breathing and how it has helped me immensely. If you have missed the earlier posts in the series, follow the tag breathing. We are exploring the process of breathing for aiding and honing our communication skills.
Any questions you may have on breathing, communication or any of the management areas that I wrote about, feel free to connect with the community on Facebook page.
Today, I will tell you how you must breathe and what postures you must maintain.
Principle 1: Breathe In with your Nose
As the popular adage goes – nose is for eating and mouth for eating, employ your nose to breathe in with your mouth tightly shut. Your nose vents have fine hairs that act like filters – filters against dust, pollen, bacteria and other unwanted foreign particles. So, when you use your nose to breathe, it ensures that the air that goes in is clean and helps lungs become effective at absorbing oxygen from it.
If you are used to employing your mouth for breathing, you are perhaps risking taking in unfiltered air and it could possibly show its ill effects sooner or later.
It’s time to switch-over. It’s not easy, but not impossible. Breathe consciously with your mouth closed and through your nose. You may feel suffocated at first, but it becomes a habit over time. While you have not used your nose all this while, there is every possibility that your nostrils are blocked and it may need a day or two to clear up.
Principle 2: Use your Diaphragm
The diaphragm is a muscle group in your body that separates the upper body with the lower one. It sits between your lungs and abdomen.
Well, the diaphragm plays a major role in the process of breathing. When you breathe, your lungs expand. When it expands, your diaphragm moves down. When it moves down, it takes up space within the abdominal cavity and this in turn rises your belly.
When you breathe out, the diaphragm moves to its normal position, belly in and air out through your mouth.
This type of breathing is called as diaphragmatic breathing. It allows us to take deep breaths and utilizes the muscles in the abdomen, chest, neck and shoulders to full effect.
There is a common misconception that deep breathing involves taking air into your stomach. Although your stomach expands while you breathe, it is due to the lung expansion and the diaphragm moving down laterally and not due to the air filling up in your belly area.
Principle 3: Relaxed Breathing
If you are not relaxed while you breathe, you are doing it all wrong. Breathing works if and only if you are relaxed. So, let’s see how you can differentiate between being relaxed or tensing about it.
Observe your shoulders in front of a mirror as you breathe. With every breath, if your shoulder rises as you inhale and goes down as you exhale, you are stressing and not relaxed. This leads to lack of oxygen and makes you further stressed due to lack of oxygen.
It is a vicious cycle of breathing that turns quick, fast breaths into lack of oxygen, leading to increased stress levels. The remedy is simply to stay relaxed and calm as you breathe and breathe deep.
Your posture is important too. Maintain a straight back if you are either standing or sitting on a chair. The posture is important to enable your body to take deep breaths. You may as well lie down on your back to get the same result as well.
Principle 4: Follow a Rhythm
If you feel your heart beat when you are relaxed, you will hear the lub dub sound and if you observe closely, it goes about in a rhythmic way. Likewise, your breathing must adhere to a rhythm to keep the natural flow in momentum.
Our body loves rhythm and we do too. We love to do certain things in the mornings, a different set in the afternoon and some more in the evening. Mixing these up screws up our balanced life as we know it. Bring in the balance to your breathing through a rhythm that suits you and your body based on the comfort levels. You will love the rhythm, which makes sure that you keep breathing deep for longer durations than normal.
I hope that the basic of breathing parts 1 and 2 have given the much needed foundation that is needed to build good breathing practices and an over-abundance of oxygen levels.
In the next instalment, we look at the consequences of bad breathing.