§ Correct breathing enhances general health and results in thoracic pressure changes that assist the flow of lymph though the chest area. Movement of the diaphragm and pressure changes in the thorax during breathing assist the return of lymph in the large collecting vessels.
§ Many people are disorganised breathers and use upper chest muscles instead of the diaphragm.
Are you a disorganised breather?
§ Put one hand on your abdomen between your lower ribs and navel and the other hand on your breastbone. Take a DEEP breath so that your abdomen pushes out.
§ If you breathed in through your nose, your stomach expanded first and you felt minimal chest movement, you are breathing in a normal pattern.
§ If you breathed in fast through your mouth, your upper chest expanded first, and there was little movement in your abdomen, then you are a disorganised breather.
Correct breathing technique
§ Lie on your back with head supported. If you suffer from reflux or other condition where it is uncomfortable to lie flat, sit upright in a chair with hands in your lap.
§ With lips together, jaw relaxed, breathe in slowly through your nose and deeply into your abdomen (like inflating a balloon). There should be minimal movement in the upper chest.
§ Relax and breathe out effortlessly through your nose
REMEMBER: Lips together, jaw relaxed, breathe low and slow through the nose.
§ When your breathing pattern feels controlled and co-ordinated, count your breathing for 1 minute (1 breath equals 1 in and out). Aim for 12 breaths per minute.
§ Keep your breathing relaxed and even, taking slightly longer to breathe out.
§ Try this breathing pattern while lying on your back, sitting up, standing and walking. Breathe low and slow.
§ Practice while lying in bed at the beginning and end of the day, and every hour during the day.
§ Repetition will reinforce new healthy breathing patterns, but don’t become obsessive.
§ Tension and stress will increase muscular tension of the chest wall.
Note the changes
§ It may take a long time and regular practice to become confident and co-ordinated for your body to accept this new breathing pattern as normal. You may feel the need to sigh, gulp for air or hyperventilate as your body adjusts. With the stress of daily living, it is easy for your breathing to become disorganised again.
§ With commitment and determination your body will recognise the change as normal breathing.
REMEMBER: check, correct and forget.
Bradley, D. (2012). Hyperventilation Syndrome. Breathing disorders and how to overcome them. Auckland, New Zealand: Random House.