Is your Breathing Right?

Breathing deeply, allowing oxygen to fill your body – clearing your mind and relaxing your muscles is a powerful tool for wellness.

Yogic breathing has huge health benefits including relaxed muscles, increased lung capacity, reduced anxiety, improved oxygen levels and a strengthened immune system.

To improve your health and bring back a sense of calm to a stressful day, follow our experts ten minute exercise to feel a change in your mental and physical wellbeing every day.

Step 1

Find a place where you sit quietly or lay back with hands and legs outstretched, with the palm of your hands faced up with your eyes closed.

Step 2

While inhaling, let the abdomen rise to its limit and at exhalation, let it fall completely. At this stage, be sure to breath into your abdomen and not your chest. Continue this for 20 breaths, then rest.

Step 3

Moving breaths into the chest, on inhalation expand and fill the rib cage. When exhaling, let the lungs collapse fully – sinking to their limit. In this step keep the abdomen as still as possible – only move the chest. Continue for 20 breaths and then stop.

Step 4

Next focus your breathing into the upper chest/clavicle. Taking short breaths to open your upper chest, you’ll notice the shoulders lifting slightly on inhalation and down with exhalation.

Then, on exhalation, relax all efforts. In this step keep the abdomen and chest still, moving only the upper chest – do this for 20 breaths then stop.

Step 5

In this step full Yogic breathing combines all three steps in the following way:

  • First inhale by filling the abdomen, then the chest, and then fill the upper chest.
  • Work your way back by exhaling first from the upper chest, then the chest, then continuing exhaling from the abdomen.

Repeat this for 20 rounds, and remember the pattern – inhaling into abdomen, chest and upper chest and exhaling from the upper chest, chest and abdomen.

Each step should be performed without strain. The natural tendency is to force breath. The correct way is to make it smooth and effortless – so go slow and easy.

If you can, try to picture the breath as a continuous wave – moving up from the navel to the throat with every inhalation, and back down with each exhalation.

It may take you a few goes to perfect the smooth, flowing pattern, but overtime it will start to come naturally.

Try this first thing in the morning to focus your mind for the day ahead, or at night to unwind for a restful night’s sleep.

Caro Dooling

Caro Dooling

Writer and expert

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