How we breathe has a major impact on our health and far too many of us don’t breathe properly.
In this new series of short blog posts, I’m going to be looking at what we are doing wrong and showing you techniques which can help you to breathe properly.
The first thing to say is that breathing through the mouth, although it may seem obvious, is not the way to breathe properly.
Sleep researchers have known for a long time that breathing through the nose actually forces air to get heated, pressurised, filtered and conditioned, thus allowing the lungs to extract oxygen from our breath much more fluently and efficiently. Breathing through the mouth, by contrast, provides none of those benefits.
Yet breathing in AND out through the nose can seem counterintuitive. Often, we feel as if we have to think about the process, whereas breathing should (obviously) come naturally.
This week there are 2 breathing techniques for you to use.
Day to Day Breathing
As you go through your day – walking, exercising, working, or relaxing, breathe in and out through your nose. Yes, you can eventually learn to do this even when jogging!
Focus on slow, gentle, and silent breaths.
The next step is to make the out- breathe longer than the in-breath, and then pause before you breathe in again.
You will forget and that is fine – just do it when you remember
Breathing to help you calm, centre and focus
This technique involves breathing through each nostril alternately, making sure that the airways are properly cleared and that all the heating, pressurising, filtering and conditioning mentioned above is done properly.
Make sure you are sitting comfortably. You are welcome to close your eyes if it helps. Put your right index finger up against your right nostril to close it off and then breathe normally through your left nostril. Do this a few times (I recommend at least ten), with your left finger up against your left nostril while you breathe through your right nostril. All the time that you are doing this, make sure your mouth is firmly closed so that you get the full benefit.
Alternate the process as many times as you want, switching from left to right nostril and back and don’t be surprised if you start to yawn and feel sleepy. You may even feel your head dropping into your chest and your eyes starting to close.
This is fine, it’s all part of the process of learning to breathe properly and getting the benefits of that.
Certainly, the first time I tried it after years of breathing out through my mouth, I found myself being woken with a start as I started to snore gently!
As with all of these techniques, it takes time but once you are used to it, this type of breathing becomes second nature. It will help you remain calm in the day and help you to sleep better at night.