You have heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” That is not entirely true. You are not just what you eat, but what (nutrients) you absorb. And just because you take deep breaths does not mean the oxygen is actually getting to your tissues!
When our bodies are oxygen deprived there is a greater chance of muscles weakness/pain, “fogginess” or poor mental focus, sluggish digestion, insomnia, and even frequent sickness/infections.
If you want to read more on the breathing subject, check out “The Oxygen Advantage” by Patrick McKeown.
Here are a few quick and easy breathing tips that will enhance your health!
1. Sit up straight (or lay down on the floor)
The straighter your spine the less compression on the lungs and more access to your diaphragm.
Speaking of the diaphragm, it is the dome-shaped muscle just below the heart and lungs and is the primary muscle for breathing. Most of us are shallow breathers, meaning we only breath into our chest area.
2. Breath through your nose.
Your mouth was meant for eating, and your nose was meant for breathing. There are many benefits to nasal breathing but I am just going to mention two. Nasal breathing improves your body’s ability to utilize oxygen. As I mentioned above, the oxygen will have a better chance of getting to all of your muscles. Nasal breathing also stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system – rest, relax and digest part of our nervous system.
*Practice breathing with your diaphragm:
Place your one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. While inhaling through your nose, allow ONLY your belly-hand to rise. Follow that with a natural exhale through your nose. Continue for about 30-seconds or more.
Once you have “mastered” that. Inhale through your nose with your belly rising, THEN allow your chest to rise for the last part of your inhalation. Follow by a natural escalation through the mouth. “Belly – Chest.”
*Bonus, you may even feel your back expand. If you are laying down then feel your back body (upper and lower ribs) press into the floor on your inhalations. If you are sitting up then feel your back body expand into your clothing.
*click here to read more about the the importance of diaphragmatic breathing (XPT link)
3. Breathe to calm or energize your body and mind. To raise your energy (upregulate) before a workout or event:
Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. 1 breath in, 1 breath out (1:1)
To calm your energy. (Downregulate) during a stressful moment or before bed:
Inhale through your nose for 3 seconds, and exhale through your nose 5-6 seconds. Studies have shown that if takes an exhalation of at least 6-7 seconds for your body’s parasympathetic nervous system to kick in (AKA the signal for your body to “rest and recover.”
All parts of our body function better with more oxygen!
- Learn to breathe with your diaphragm.
- Shut your mouth… AKA practice nasal breathing.
- To calm your mind and your body, exhale slightly longer than you inhale. Shoot for 5-6 breaths per minute. Inhale 4, hold 2, exhale 6. If that is too challenging at first, start with inhale 3, hold 2, exhale 4.