LEARNING TO BREATHE – PROPERLY
By Cindy Fisher, MA, RCC
Check as you’re reading this if you’re holding your breath. If you are you’ll know, because you’ll gasp for one. It’s amazing how as a society we are breath-holders. We go through a day holding so many things in, our breath just becomes part of that. It’s as though we’re constantly waiting for something to happen before we can breathe.
To state the obvious, breathing is what keeps us alive. However, it’s not something we tend to spend time working on like we would our diet or exercise. Breathing well means building the breathing muscles, and at first will take time and effort.
Breathing well means we get more oxygen to our brain, muscles, tissues and organs. We get rid of toxins and reduce mental and physical tension. We improve our focus and concentration and feel energized. The list goes on.
Deep, abdominal breathing takes practice. Start with just two breaths in a row to prevent getting dizzy. As your breathing muscles strengthen, you’ll be able to do more.
Start by placing one hand on your abdomen below your belly button, and one hand on your chest. When you deep breathe, the hand on your abdomen should rise up more than the hand on your chest. Keep practicing until you achieve this.
A way to help your breath go all the way down into the lower abdomen is to visualize a downward movement of air. Most people think of filling up their lungs and imagine air moving upward. Visualize air moving down into your abdomen much as when you pour water into a pitcher and the water fills the bottom of the pitcher first.
Move on to counting while you breathe. Breathe in to a count of six, hold for a count of four, breathe out for a count of ten, then breathe in again, and so on.
Finally, as you are doing this abdominal breathing, imagine breathing in relaxation, and as you breathe out, feeling it spreading through your body, letting go of any bits of pain and tension that you find.
I make sure I take a few good breaths at least once an hour. How often are you going to breathe?