Are you breathing properly?
In optimal breathing, each inhale expands the lower torso, back and ribs while the shoulders, neck, face, and chest remain relaxed. Upon observation the belly expands as inhalation occurs. During exhalation the belly retracts as the diaphragm relaxes. A person’s breathing can be assessed in several different ways.
One way to test whether you are breathing properly is to put your hand on your lower abdomen. When you inhale, you want to feel your abdomen expand. Many people are paradoxical breathers which means they breathe through their chest.
To develop proper breathing habits, try the following breathing exercises:
Proper breathing is slow, deep, and rhythmic, and involves inhalation and exhalation through the nose. Deep means that the initial movement is from the abdomen and from the lower ribs. With the complete breath, the movement starts in the lower abdomen due to contraction of the diaphragm and on the sides of the body then moves up to the chest. To check your breathing, put one hand on your low abdomen and one on your chest and take a deep breath. If your chest expands first, you are probably using your neck muscles to breathe, not your diaphragm. Another way to check your breathing is to put your hands on your side, just below the chest. When you inhale your hands should move away from the body.