Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself breathe normally. Are your shoulders moving? If so, you may be breathing wrong.
Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to breathe, and it’s very important to learn the right way.
Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is the natural way we breathe. Babies are born breathing using their diaphragm muscles for breathing. Watch an infant– you won’t see a baby holding tension in her shoulders or breathing into the top of his chest!
As we age, we can fall out of the habit of breathing into our bellies. Whether from being conscious about holding our stomachs in flat or from holding stress in our upper bodies.
Breathing into the upper part of the chest results in shallow breathing where we are not getting a full exchange of oxygen. It can also exacerbate stress and tension in the shoulders, neck, and jaw. Chest breathing may also result in an increase of acid reflux or complications with COPD.
On the other hand, belly breathing has several benefits:
-Lowers blood sugar
-improves the quality of sleep
-Reduces stress hormones
-Decreases oxygen demand
-Improves cardiovascular function
Here’s a brief video that shows you how to practice belly breathing. If you become aware of your breathing and practice this technique daily, you can retrain your brain and your diaphragm to breathe correctly all the time.