Paths to God, Raja Yoga, Yoga, Meditation, Pranayam

How To Breathe Properly – 2 : Your first step to a transformed existence

What can possibly be wrong with our breathing! Unless we were breathing we won’t be living. So we must be breathing correctly, you think. But are we alive well enough? It might so happen that not knowing how to breathe properly has led to much of the stress you keep experiencing in your life. What keeps you alive, if done wrongly, can very well kill you.

If you have not gone through the first part of this post, which gives a perspective on breathing, then it is highly recommended to do so. This will help you gather an understanding of a higher purpose in breathing, an activity which we have always taken for granted. As a result, we had never been mindful of our breathing and how it impacts our lives.

In this post, the correct way of breathing, which is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, will be discussed in detail so that you can ultimately switch back to normal breathing again. The question is are you concerned enough to do it?

Breathing the Right Way

Most of us are breathing the wrong way. Not from the very beginning of our lives, though. Observe how a child breathes, observe how other animals breathe. As they breathe in, their abdomen or belly expands outwards. As they breathe out, their abdomen contracts inwards.

Now observe how you breathe. Is it your abdomen moving or your chest and shoulders? If your abdomen is moving, is it moving the right way?

It is surprising to find how so many people had been breathing wrongly all their lives, unless pointed out. Their chest suffers expansion and contraction while breathing, and not the abdomen. Somewhere as we grew up, we developed this unnatural way of breathing for whatsoever reasons.

But this form of breathing, called chest breathing, leads to stress in the body and mind. This also leads to shortened and shallow breath, requiring one to breathe more number of times per minute, thus leading to inefficient breathing.

Images from TRAIL magazine

Once you come back to belly breathing or diaphragm breathing, you will notice the difference in how calmer your breathing has become. You will be taking slower and deeper breaths in a relaxed manner. In turn, it will keep you be more relaxed and stable all throughout the day.

Another important point to remember is that one must NEVER use the mouth to breathe in normal circumstances. Breathing MUST happen through nostrils only. Unless of course both are clogged due to cold, but that is a special scenario. When doing heavy exercises or work and when one needs to breathe rapidly, then mouth can be used for exhalation only. However, inhalation should be done with the nostrils only, unless the situation is too demanding. Breathing in through the mouth must always remain your last option.

How Do I Breathe Properly?

If you have discovered while reading the post that you had been breathing wrongly, then you must be wondering now how to get back to the correct way of breathing. Well, everything requires practice. You must dedicate time to change yourself, only then change can happen. I am sure that for such an important activity like breathing, on which your life depends, you would give your time to correct it.

Below are the three steps to make your breathing right:

  1. Make breathing correctly a priority in life. Practice belly breathing with long and slow breaths for a dedicated duration of time every day, even if only for 5 minutes. As you breathe in your belly must come outwards and as you breathe out your belly should go inwards. Actually the diaphragm comes downwards and upwards and causes the said movement of the belly. Remember to use only your nostrils for inhalation and exhalation. No movement of chest and shoulders must happen.
  2. After about two weeks of such daily practice, become conscious of your breathing time to time during the day. It can be while walking or driving, or while sitting in a meeting, or any other time doing any other work. Just switch your mind for some time to observe how you are breathing, and correct it if necessary. Keeping a self-check on your breathing is the most important thing you can do to ensure you are not falling back again to the faulty breathing pattern. Make it a conscious habit to check yourself.
  3. After few weeks of keeping a conscious check on yourself, you will notice that your breathing is naturally happening through the nostrils and by movement of the abdomen only. It can typically take 3 to 6 weeks to reach this stage, depending on person to person. You would not need to be further conscious of your breathing any more, but it is advised to keep checking on yourself time to time.

Now is the time to switch to the right way of breathing. It takes a small effort to drastically improve your life.




This video may be helpful as a guide. It is declared that it is only for information of the readers and not endorsement of any kind.

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