By Bob Hubbard
The idea of a guide to breathing seems
rather strange to some. After all, we all do it automatically. But,
like everything else, there is a right way to breath to maximize its
benefit to you.
The most common breathing uses only the
top half of our lungs. This leaves the bottom portion unused and tends
to hinder the fullest absorption of oxygen due to the retention of stale
air. This stale air and poor use of our lung capacity effects every
organ in our bodies. Every day we take thousands of breaths but rarely
will we think about how to improve the process.
Proper deep breathing combined with meditation
can reduce stress, expand your consciousness, deepen insights and help
create inner peace. Even without meditation, properly breathing can
help keep you alert and energized to face the trials of the day.
We enter this world in a soft, relaxed
state, gradually growing harder as we age. As we age, we forget how
to breathe at our full capacity, taking shallower and shallower breaths.
This should be a concern.
One of the first things the singer and
musician learn is proper breath control. Body builders and weight training
includes proper breathing instruction.
Tai chi, Yoga and other meditative practices
require you to become attuned to your breathing at an early stage. In
order to bet the maximum from these studies, it is vitally important
that the body and the mind receive sufficient oxygen. The act of breathing
itself is important for proper bodily function. It massages the internal
organs and moves both nutrients and wastes. From a meditative perspective,
focusing on proper breathing unclutters your mind, and helps you to
relax. How often have you had trouble sleeping and heard "focus
on your breathing" or "breath slow and count your breaths"?
So, breathing right is important. But,
how do you do it?
In order to understand the right way to
breath, you must also know the wrong ways. You want to avoid what are
called "Clavicle" and "Thoracic" breathing. In "Clavicle
breathing", the abdomen is sucked in and the shoulders and collarbone
are raised. It is the shallowest type giving the least benefit. Expanding
the rib muscles does “Thoracic breathing” which is where
the stomach is often sucked in but the chest rises and falls..
Proper breathing is more than simply "breath
in, breath out". Proper breathing involves the abdomen, and four
distinct stages: Inhalation, retention, exhalation and pause.
Never force yourself to inhale to the point where you feel so full you
might burst. A common mistake, you should never try to force it beyond
comfortable fullness. Go about 2/3's full. Don't try to suck in all
the air you can as fast as you can. Do it at a slow and steady pace
for maximum effect. Breath with your abdomen. To get the feel for this,
while wearing loose clothing, lie on your back. Place your hand on the
upper abdomen, where the diaphragm is located, approximately just under
your rib line. Breathe in and out slowly. The abdomen should expand
outward as you inhale and contract as you exhale.
A common mistake is to breath in and out as fast as you can. This can
cause you to become lightheaded, and you get minimal effectiveness of
the air. Instead, after breathing in about 2/3 of a lungful of air,
hold it for about 3-4 seconds. This allows for proper exchange of oxygen
and toxins through the cell walls, and can slow down your heartbeat
and reduce blood pressure. Proper retention has many therapeutic benefits
to the body.
Don't try to force the air out. Empty from the top to the bottom, in
a relaxed manner.
When the lungs are completely empty, pause for a few seconds. This will
allow the abdominal wall and diaphragm to relax so that they may operate
at the best of their ability on the next breath.
Proper deep breathing can reduce stress,
expand your mind, increase your endurance and energy, and keep you alert.
Shallow or incorrect breathing can leave you clouded, tired and lethargic.
Regardless of your activity, remember to breath. Be aware of how you
are breathing, and focus on a slow deep relaxed breath. You'll find
you will be more effective in your daily activities.
is an administrator of the popular martial arts sites MartialTalk.com
and KenpoTalk.com. He is president
of SilverStar WebDesigns
inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable
solutions for martial artists. A student of all the arts, he is currently
studying Modern Arnis. Bob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More of Bob's articles can be found at rustaz.net.
Please contact Bob if you would like him to review your martial arts