Why Didn’t Anyone Teach Me How To Breathe…Until Now?

breatheBreathing is just something that our bodies do without even thinking about it…right?

Wrong! We take breathing for granted. We rarely give it a thought unless we get winded going up a flight of stairs or light headed from holding our breath accidentally during a scary movie. Breathing keeps us alive by bringing oxygen into our blood.

Poor breathing can worsen many health conditions:
  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Lack of Energy
  • Sleep Issues
  • Obesity
  • Stress

Most people reach the peak of their breathing capacity in their 20’s. Then between 10% and 27% of respiratory ability is lost every 10 years. If you aren’t doing something to create optimal breathing capacity, it will decline along with your general health. The good news is that it is possible for anyone to achieve better breathing. There is a way to consciously control breathing. Once someone begins to breathe properly they can reverse or improve many health conditions.

Breathing can be used to achieve a relaxed state of mind and reducing stress and anxiety levels. We can deliberately use our breathing to influence the sympathetic nervous system which controls many body functions including: blood pressure, heart rate, circulation and digestion. Proper breathing has measurable medical benefits. Practitioners of Yoga have known how important guided breathing is for centuries. In Yoga, the Prana (breath) is a universal energy that can be used to find a balance between the body and mind. Western cultures are now beginning to adopt proper breathing techniques.

Yoga is where I recently learned to breathe. I was like most people who hold in their stomachs when they inhale or push them out when they exhale. They do not use their diaphragm. They breathe using their upper chest, neck and shoulders. The best, most natural way to breathe is by using our abdomens instead of the upper chest. Animals and babies breathe with their bellies, which rise and fall with each breath. Somehow as adults we forget how to do this.

To practice Abdominal Breathing (Belly Breathing) or the 3-Part Yoga Breath, follow these steps:
  1. Place one hand on your abdomen right beneath your rib cage and one on your chest.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, filling your abdomen, then your rib cage and your upper chest. Watch the hand on your abdomen rise each time you inhale. The hand on your chest should barely move.
  3. When you’ve inhaled fully, pause for a moment. Exhale slowly through your nose. Emptying your upper chest, through the ribcage and then slowly bring the abdomen in and the belly button to the spine. Release as much old air as possible. It should take you twice as long to exhale as it did to inhale.
  4. To relax fully, take and release 10 abdominal breaths. Keep your breathing smooth and even throughout. Let it ebb and flow to your own perfect rhythm.

There are many breathing exercises and techniques out there, not just in yoga. I suggest researching them and finding one or two that work for you in stressful situations or for relaxation. As with all things, practice makes perfect. As you continue to practice you will find yourself breathing properly without any thought. Or maybe in a stressful situation, but not feeling the pressure because you are automatically using a breathing technique.


I am dedicated to supporting you in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle, please Contact Me if you would like to learn more about breathing exercises or other ways I can help you in your journey.

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Be Healthy,

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About Heather Lentz

Your Journey Begins Here…We Be Healthy supports you in your journey towards a healthy lifestyle through Low-Glycemic Cooking (& Eating), High Quality Nutritional Supplements, Jumpstart 5-Day Carb Cleanse, Healthy Energy Drinks, Preservative-Free Skin Care, Reducing Your Toxic Load and Creating a Healthy Home. Although I am still on my healing journey, I am now taking others along with me.
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22 Responses to Why Didn’t Anyone Teach Me How To Breathe…Until Now?

  1. Emelie Rota says:

    It might seem strange, but Pranayama is often the most difficult yoga for me to practice. How can breathing be so difficult, when it’s something we do automatically?

    You’ve done a great job of establishing not only why it’s so hard, but why it’s important to mindfully practice breathing and not just operate robotically all the time.

    I have found that with practice, Pranayama and other mindful breath exercises get easier, and I know my body benefits from the extra oxygen and clarify of focus =)

    • Emilie,
      Thanks for your comment. I have found breathing exercises get easier with practice also. I am glad to hear that you are using these techniques to improve your mind-body connection and overall health. 😉

  2. Heather,

    This is such a great post. You are so right that we need to be taught how to do this properly. For me yoga is my key to breathing correctly and for me this is a great reminder as I have been missing my yoga class. Thank youl

  3. Thanks Sasha,
    I learned to breathe properly in my Yoga class. I’m glad my post served as a reminder for you. I haven’t been going as much as I prefer, but I plan to change that. 😉

  4. Tanya says:

    I learned how to breathe in yoga too! This article brought me back to that class when my sister-in-law (who teaches) was trying to teach me ujai breath and I just couldn’t get the breath into my stomach! I am amazed now at my progress. I can slowly breathe in a yoga class when before I couldn’t. And now to have that tool in my everyday life is such a blessing. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

    • Tanya,
      It’s nice to know that this article has reminded others of their breathing lessons from Yoga class. The ability to breathe is a great tool that can be used in everyday life. Glad you liked it. 😉

  5. Anja says:

    While I’ve been taught this way of breathing before and was told “it’s important” – nobody ever explained the “WHY” to me as clearly as you just did.
    I will pay more attention to that again 🙂

    Thank you, Heather!
    Anja

  6. Oh my gosh! While I have known the importance of breathing, this is completely NEW information: “Most people reach the peak of their breathing capacity in their 20′s. Then between 10% and 27% of respiratory ability is lost every 10 years. If you aren’t doing something to create optimal breathing capacity, it will decline along with your general health.” WOW! I have never heard this before and it’s quite motivating. I am ashamed to admit I am not a yogi yet. I have not found a local area yoga class that inspires me but I am thinking about trying again. I first learned how to breathe properly when I took voice lessons about five years ago. It turns out that to sing you really have to breathe from you belly. Who knew?! Then I learned four different and equally fascinating different kinds of breathing techniques in my qi gong class. These were like meditations in themselves and really rocked my world. I just tried your exercise and it’s similar to some of the techniques I learned in qi gong. It’s surprising how many different ways there are to practice conscious breathing. Thanks so much for this. I am enjoying your posts. 🙂

    • Breathing techniques are taught in singing, swimming, tai chi, qi gong, yoga, meditation, just to name a few. There are many different ways to practice conscious breathing and the benefits are amazing. Good luck finding a Yoga class that fits you! Thank you for the great comments! 😉

  7. Suki says:

    I didn’t know that poor breathing can cause a lot of health issues, thanks for the information. I always practice my breathing by meditation and really work well for me. Whenever I feel nervous or stress, it helps me calm and relax . I’m looking for a yoga class near my place for exercise and improve my posture. After reading your post that yoga also help the breathing rhythm as well. So I should add a yoga schedule in my calendar asap and try a new breathing techniques.

    • Suki,
      I’m glad you liked the article. There are many breathing techniques in Yoga besides 3-Part Yoga Breath including, Alternate Nostril Breathing, Ujjayi Breathing, Kabalabati, Bellows Breath, and Bastrika. There are many others too. Good luck trying them out! 😉

  8. Kathleen says:

    Wow! Thank YOU for this one Heather! Had NO idea we lost that level of breath over time. That is a scary thought! I do love yoga and pranayama saved me in my 20s when I had hit a level of breakdown physically emotionally and mentally while studying music in New York. The city was closing in on me and I was getting sick. I went up to my relatives in Nova Scotia and stayed in a cabin on the Bay of Fundy. I practiced pranayama several times throughout the day over 4 days. By the time I left, I was COMPLETELY renewed! I was astounded at how my whole perception of life was so dramatically impacted… as well as my health. 4 days! that is all it took.

    I love to run in my canyon now. I breathe deep both from teh running, but also induced by the plant life around. I LOVE to breathe it in. I am going to make this a more conscious practice from this post! THANK YOU!! xo

    • Kathleen, I’m glad to hear how breathing has helped you! Thanks so much for sharing this. It is amazing how much control we have in our lives if we just take some time to slow down and BREATHE. 😉

  9. Although I intuitively know that when I’m not practicing breathing, my health suffers, I hadn’t been consciously thinking about it recently. Thanks so much for the reminder. I first truly understood the benefits of proper breathing while playing a wind instrument as a child and into my early adult years. Later, after nearly killing myself in a corporate job, I took up yoga & once again found my whole body unraveling and feeling “free” again, through breath work. I believe it’s time again to consciously remind myself to remember how simple & effective this is in my life. Thank you for your gentle reminders Heather. ~ Loralee

  10. This is such an important topic. Many of us forget to breath especially if we are sitting in front of the computer. I have often found myself where I am not taking big breathes in. For some reason I forget, but when I am present and fully listen to my body and breathe I feel so much better. Thanks for writing this.

    xoxo
    Alara

    • Thank you Alara,
      I forget sometimes too. I also find myself tensing up my shoulders. When I notice I relax them and breathe deeply. It is slow, but I know I am making progress. 😉

  11. Sheila says:

    Thanks Heather, I also discovered my improper breathing habits through my yoga practice. It startled me to realize I had it all wrong. I believe my habits stemmed from being a gymnast in my early years and being cognizant to always hold my belly in. Thank you for sharing this valuable information on proper breath.

    • Hi Sheila, You are right about the holding the belly in connection. Many of us are taught to hold in our bellies and this leads to incorrect breathing. I’m glad you liked the post! 😉

  12. Jenny Shih says:

    It was so wonderful when I learned how to breathe! A friend who is a yoga teacher taught me. She encouraged me to lie on the floor and breathe for 10 or 20 min at a time. Talk about euphoria! It was amazing!

    I’m so glad you’re writing about this topic. It’s an important thing for people to know!

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