May 112010

Learning how to breathe properly is perhaps the biggest step you can take to improving your state of well-being – both physically and mentally. Your breathing technique can have a huge impact on your performance in anything – from sports to everyday life – so you should take some time to master it and even learn some advanced breathing techniques which will help you, again, improve your health.

Before you begin learning how to breathe properly though, you should first check how you’re doing it specifically – to do this, use your hands and place them on your torso while laying down, one hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen. If you’re breathing correctly, you should notice both hands moving up and down regularly as you’re inhaling and exhaling. In most people, it’s common that only the chest hand moves and the abdomen one remains mostly stationary – in this case, to improve your breathing you’ll need to learn how to use your abdomen.

There are many techniques that can help you breathe with your abdomen better, but we really shouldn’t go into detail on those in this article – they go more in the area of advanced breathing techniques, and that’s not what this is about. However, the most basic exercises you can do to improve your abdominal breathing involve, again, your hands – use them to monitor your breathing as you do it, and follow the movement of the hand on your abdomen. As you improve your ability to breathe with it, begin pushing down with your hand slightly – this will make it a bit more difficult to breathe, and you should increase the pressure as you become better with the exercise.

There’s also a technique that can be used to produce an instant rush of energy, while also actually strengthening some of the muscles used in breathing (such as those in your neck, abdomen and around the lungs). To do it, simply close your mouth and begin inhaling and exhaling through the nose very rapidly – you should do it in small “sets” of about 10-15 seconds, not more. It can be a bit hard getting the increased breathing speed right at first, but you should definitely be able to do it after a few tries. You’ll also notice that it gets easier as you progress, and you’ll feel tension in the areas that we mentioned above – that’s because you’re actually putting strain on the muscles there!

We did say that you should do it for 15 seconds maximum, and that point deserves to be repeated – this exercise, while very useful, can also be very dangerous to your health if you’re not careful. There’s a condition called “hyperventilation” which is induced by breathing too heavily, and it can have very serious consequences – so limit your durations accordingly to avoid harming yourself! Really, we can’t stress this enough – you need to use a lot of common sense when it comes to breathing techniques.

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