Change Your Breath and Better Your Life

Breathing is the most natural thing in the world. We breathe, we live, simple as that. It is something done automatically, so it makes sense that there is very little thought given to how to breathe. Did you know that if you change your breath you can change your life for the better?

Just keep breathing – source

Yup, there is a science behind better breathing for a longer, better life. Learn how to change your breath, the benefits, and technique today and start making a change that boosts health and wellbeing.

Physiology of Breathing

So, what exactly happens in our body when we breathe? Why do we need to do it to survive? We can last weeks without food, days without water, but only minutes without breathing. What makes breathing essential to wellbeing and longevity?

Why We Breathe

All the functions of the body, from thinking to digesting, to moving, need oxygen. As these processes are done, they produce a by-product called carbon dioxide. This product is something we don’t need, so we have to get rid of it somehow. That is what it means to breathe. It is an exchange of something we need and something we do not need.

How We Breathe

Your brain gets a constant signal from the body telling it that it needs to breathe to increase oxygen levels and decrease carbon dioxide. The process of breathing involves a gas exchange in which we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. The main muscle involved in breathing is the diagram, which contracts when you breathe in and expats when you breathe out. It sits between our chest and stomach and is needed for correct breathing. The lungs contain air sacs called alveoli, which are surrounded by capillaries where red blood cells pick up oxygen and leave behind carbon dioxide.

Why Change Your Breath

Okay, it’s all fun to know why we breathe, but then if it is so ingrained into our body, why should we change our breath? Not breathing correctly can affect our physical and mental health drastically as it can affect all the functions of the body, from muscles to thinking, and more.

Benefits of Breathing Correctly

Here are some simple, life-changing benefits of breathing correctly.

More Energy

When we change our breath, we can gain more energy. This is because there is an increase in oxygenation in the body. Oxygen is used to produce energy for our muscles and cells, which can increase motivation, clarity, energy, and ability. Plus, breathing right decreases carbon dioxide in the body. A build-up of this product can cause fatigue, decreased concentration, and lethargy. Think of how you breathe faster when you exercise. This is the body trying to increase oxygen and decrease carbon dioxide waste products.

Calms the Mind

Breathing with the correct technique also helps to calm and control the mind. When you breathe well, your body tends to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the body responsible for turning fight or flight off. Fight or flight response is normal to stressors, but our ancestors would use it to prepare to fight off danger or run away. Nowadays, even worrying about having to pay a bill may cause all the fight or flight symptoms to activate, including elevated heart rate, reduced digestion, high blood pressure, and stress.

Breathing right also helps control the mind. With good breathing comes a reduction in rumination, unwanted thoughts, and negative emotions.

Activates Vagus Nerve

Breathing well can also activate the vagus nerve. This nerve is part of the nervous system and is the connection of the brain to important organs, like the heart and lungs. This nerve is needed to regulate our functions, including immune response, heart rate, digestion, and more. The activation of the vagus nerve also increases the production of happiness chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, which can, in turn, reduce stress, negative thoughts, and anxiety, while increasing

Lymph Movement

One vital, overlooked benefit to breathing correctly is related to the lymphatic system. This is a group of organs, vessels, and tissues responsible for keeping us healthy, protecting us against disease, housing our immune response, and fighting infection. Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have an organ that pumps it through the body. Instead, it relies on the movement of our breath to maintain flow.

Simple Technique to Change Your Breath

It truly is a simple technique, one you can do anywhere, at any time. All you need to do is breathe deep. Deep breaths increase mental health, oxygenation, energy, and lymph movement, and allow all of our cells to be revitalized and energized.

The best way to breathe is diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing. You can find a complete guide on how to do so here, but these are the basics. When we breathe in, our stomach should expand, and when we exhale, our stomachs should contract. This ensures you are properly using the diaphragm muscle in your breathing style. Children and infants tend to breathe correctly, but our hectic and fast-paced lifestyles often lead us to breathe in a way that reduces our health.

Here are some steps:

  1. Sit upright in a relaxed position. Make sure your shoulders are down and back, your spine is straight, and your chin is slightly raised. You can also stand with your legs shoulder length apart.
  2. Place a hand on your belly. This will help ground you and focus your attention on the muscle that needs to move.
  3. Inhale, breathing slowly and deeply, feeling the belly expand. Using this conscious breathing style, the diaphragm moves downward, which creates more space in the chest for deeper, fuller breaths.
  4. Exhale, allowing the diaphragm to move back up in a relaxed position, reducing space in the chest and allowing the carbon dioxide to escape naturally and completely.
  5. Do this a couple of times a day to get used to the feeling of diaphragm breathing. Start to incorporate it more and more in daily life. It might even become second nature eventually!

Common Mistakes When Breathing

Here are some of the most common mistakes we make when breathing normally in our day-to-day lives.

  • Shallow breathing – Our lungs are composed of alveoli, small sacs responsible for increasing oxygenation and reducing carbon dioxide. Shallow breathing only uses about 30% of this structure, reducing oxygen to the body, and leaving carbon dioxide, a waste product, in the cells. More carbon dioxide in the body increases body acidity, which reduces physical health and immune health.
  • Breathing quickly – breathing too quickly causes similar issues as breathing shallowly. If you breathe fast, chances are you cannot properly increase oxygen and get rid of carbon dioxide.
  • Mouth breathing – about 30 to 50% of adults tend to breathe through the mouth, which isn’t good. The nose is more equipped to filter out potential pollutants, allergens, and toxins, whereas you are absorbing them if you breathe through your mouth. Breathing through the mouth also increases dry mouth, which in turn reduces saliva and digestion.
  • Poor posture – having a bad posture can be one of the reasons you cannot take deep, slow breaths. Bad posture constricts the diagram, not allowing it to expand properly.

The Takeaway

Change your breath to change your life, improving your health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Learning to make diaphragm breathing a habit helps improve mood, increase energy, and boost concentration while reducing fatigue and stress. Try to breathe with good posture, slowly and deeply, for the most benefits.

Remember that health comes from within, so eat nutritious food, exercise daily, and care for your mental health. Daily habits become building blocks for overall health. Plus, try to take care of microbiota health. Learn everything you need to know about gut microbiota today for free here.

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