Learning to breathe well
A normal breathing rate is between 10-14 breaths per minute. You should be breathing through your nose so that you will get 10% more oxygen from the air you breath and the air will be better filtered. Mouth breathing can be a sign of poor breathing patterns.
How long can you hold your breath for? Should be 25-30 seconds. Less than 15 seconds could mean low tolerance to carbon dioxide
Breathing better has a calming effect. It can reduce pain and anxiety and improve stress tolerance.
There have been research projects using breathing exercises for improving asthma, sinus problems, improving digestion, assisting weight loss and reducing PMT and menopause symptoms.
If you are holding your breath due to pent up emotions it can help to sometimes release emotions through a good cry, reflective thinking, exercise, doing things that give you other emotions – joy, laughter.
There are several different breathing exercises that you can use, here are a couple of examples:
Buteyko breathing method
- Sit upright in a comfortable chair and relax. Focus specifically on the relaxation of your belly and chest muscles.
- Close your eyes and tilt your head slightly upward.
- Gently, shallowly, and slowly breathe through your nose while keeping your mouth closed.
- Exhale slowly until you feel your lungs have been emptied of air.
- Hold your breath as long as possible and then repeat from the beginning.
- Decide whether you will be sitting up or lying down for the exercise. What’s most important is that you feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Make a conscious effort to focus on your breathing.
- Breathe in very slowly and deliberately through your nose. If done properly, your abdomen should go out as you inhale, as opposed to your chest.
- Exhale just as slowly. Your abdomen should now be moving in as you do so.
- If performed ideally, the exhalation process should be roughly twice as long as the inhalation.
This method is quite similar to both the Buteyko method and the diaphragmatic breathing method with a few slight differences. It has been found to be most effective for asthma patients whose attacks are related to mouth breathing. It also works well for those that experience episodes triggered by rapid breathing. However, those with very severe asthma or asthma related to allergies, colds, or other illnesses may not benefit as thoroughly.
The full method involves diaphragm-based, shallow, conscious breathing through the nose as with the diaphragmatic method detailed above. However, additional emphasis should be placed on tailoring your breathing pattern to the activity at hand. This method can be used to help sufferers gain greater control over their breathing in association with a wide variety of situations, including but not limited to physical exercise and sports. The key here is to try and stay as conscious as possible to the breathing technique you use while performing any type of strenuous activity.
Try these different exercises and see which one works best for you. Another very simple method is simply to try and take 5 belly breaths at different times during the day –stuck in traffic in the car, sitting at your desk, waiting in a queue, waiting for the kettle to boil – whatever fits in with your daily routine.