Everyone knows that breathing is essential to life; it's obvious, right? Then how is it that most of us are not doing correctly! It’s true, in fact, most of us use only around a third of our actual respiratory capacity.
Considering how much we take breathing for granted, it’s hard to believe that so many of our body’s functions rely on it to work effectively. It impacts everything from our body’s ability to produce energy efficiently to brain function and even our ability to concentrate. Breathing properly can improve our digestion, lower blood pressure, reduce tension and feelings of anxiety. It can even strengthen our immune system!
So how do you know if you’re breathing correctly? A simple test is to lay flat on the floor and place a hand just below your ribs. Take a breath and notice which part of your body moves; does your abdomen rise and your chest and shoulders stay relatively still? Or is it the other way around; your chest rises, and your abdomen hardly moves? If it’s the latter, you might want to try some breathing exercises!
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, place your hands on your upper stomach. Breathe in through your nose and count to four. Imagine you have a balloon in your belly that you're inflating, and as you breathe, your hands should rise as your abdomen fills with air. Hold the breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth for another four seconds.
Practice this exercise for five minutes at a time, two or three times a day if you can; it may take a while but trust me, it’s worth it! Try it yourself, it’s easy, it’s free and it’s something you can do almost anywhere (well maybe not at the checkout at Tesco’s, that’s just weird!)