How to breathe properly: What’s the right way to breathe?

How to breathe properly: What’s the right way to breathe?

It may sound silly, but if I asked you “how to breathe properly”, would you know how?

Although it happens automatically, most people no longer breather naturally, creating problems at a functional and organic level.

Learning to breathe properly is essential for good health, controlling stress levels through mindful breathing, and improve sports performance.

How do you breath properly?

Breathing is the physical act of moving air in and out of the lungs.

Naturally, you should be breathing in air through the nostrils.

But the vast majority of people breathe superficially:

  • They inhale through the mouth, resulting in unnatural breathing
  • This alters your breathing pattern, which in turn can affect the muscles involved in breathing, cause oral conditions, and lead to other illnesses.

Breath types

Diaphragmatic breathing is breathing in which we inhale from our abdomen to the top of our chest, and the diaphragm then falls:

  • This creates greater lung capacity, using almost 100%.
  • When exhaling, the diaphragm slowly rises, and our abdomen lowers slightly, activating deep abdomen muscles.

Diaphragmatic breathing

The great protagonist of the respiratory pattern is the diaphragm, which works synergistically with the rest of your core muscles

Intercostal (pulmonary) breathing is performed with the rib muscles, which expand the rib cage. Their movement separates the ribs and expands the rib cage, filling the lungs with air.

  • It contributes 20% of respiratory capacity, improving blood circulation.
  • It reduces muscle tension.
  • It helps with heart rhythm.

What are the benefits of breathing properly?

Among many other benefit, it improves:

  • Central nervous system function.
  • Cardiopulmonary capacity.
  • Gas exchange and mitochondrial functioning.
  • Emotional wellbeing.

What are the consequences of breathing incorrectly?

When the nose isn’t working properly, the mouth takes over as an auxiliary respiratory system and results in oral respiration:

  • It impairs the quality of the air inhaled and can lead to changes in facial development, making the face more elongated and narrower.
  • It can also affect the teeth, leaving the mouth with a narrower and deeper palate and misaligned tooth structures, known as cross-bite.
  • It results in eating issues, as it affects how you chew.
  • It decreases your quality of sleep.

How do you breathe properly through your nose and enjoy good health?

A great to lear how to breathe properly through your nose is to practice conscious breathing exercises.

Conscious breathing

We only need a few minutes paying attention to how we breathe and learning how to breathe consciously before it becomes an unconscious process.

Conscious breathing is also a tool for modulating our central nervous system, especially in high-stress situations.

Exercises for learning how to breathe properly

Find a comfortable position and take a few first breaths to see how you do it: what parts of your body are moving, how your lips are positioned… Now, let’s take deep, slow and controlled breaths:

  • Inhale slowly through the nose.
  • The air will come in via your abdomen (see how it fills with air).
  • Take a deep breath for about 3 to 4 seconds.
  • Then exhale through your nose (or mouth if you find it difficult at first), for another 3 to 4 seconds.
  • Feel your abdomen descend and deep abdomen muscles become active.
Do this simple exercise as many times as you think necessary throughout the day, it’ll only take 3 or 4 minutes.

Other tips for your day-to-day

If you have trouble falling asleep, this exercise of taking deep, slow breaths will significantly help you to activate your parasympathetic system and improve your sleep.

Related Entries

  • We tell you how to breathe properly when working out: click here.
  • Learn why breathing is key to meditation.
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About Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio
Isabel del Barrio really loves sport, demonstrating it from a very young age and sharing her enthusiasm and knowledge to this day
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