Breathing properly is not all that simple. Our bodies are designed for optimal breathing, but our emotions are powerfully tied to the act. When an individual maintains a rapid respiratory rate, which is synonymous with stress or anxiety, the emotion in question is prolonged. And yet we are the only living species capable of acting on respiratory frequency and amplitude. The objective in the case described is to lower one’s respiratory frequency in order to reduce stress.
Proper breathing does more than help regulate our emotions. It also has a direct effect on our health. In practical terms, the oxygen in the air we take in nourishes our red blood cells and is distributed to our organs and tissues. When oxygen intake is at its best, our bodies are better nourished.
Improved regulation of the cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure, strengthening of the immune defences – so many benefits generated simply by breathing better!
Most of all, avoid disrupting your breathing pattern from one day to the next. The first step consists of becoming conscious of the way you breathe. The best way to do this is to lie on your back and feel the movement in your diaphragm – the muscle that separates the thorax, or chest, from the abdomen and rib cage – while inhaling and exhaling.
For most of us, breathing properly means inhaling deeply without worrying about exhaling. As a result, we tend to breathe too rapidly when we inhale a substantial amount of air. During inhalation, the body is stimulated, while during exhalation, it is soothed. For optimal breathing, the back should be straight while following the natural curves of the nape of the neck and the lower spine. Once you achieve the correct posture, breathe through your nose. Be conscious of the cool air you take in during inhalation and the warm air you expel during exhalation. The emphasis should be placed on exhaling, which you should prolong as much as possible, without forcing.
Proper exhalation helps eliminate toxins from the body and also has an analgesic effect. Again, be careful not to breathe too rapidly, because this will cause the carbon dioxide to be released too quickly, raising the acidity level in the blood and increasing muscle contractions.
Devoting a few minutes each day to improving our breathing is therefore a very good exercise in view of its many positive effects on our physical and emotional well-being.