10 Jul

I have already done a much more expansive write up about breathing, which you can find here. It talks about how to breathe properly and the consequences of breathing incorrectly.

This is a much shorter blog to give you some insight to some techniques which you can use.

Breathing is totally underrated. Try these techniques for yourself and notice the difference to your mood, body and daily life.
First up is a quick recap on how to breathe correctly in daily life...

Breathe right daily

  1. Breathe in and out through the nose (always!)
  2. Keep your mouth closed, lips gently touching
  3. Keep your tongue gently pressed on the back of your top middle teeth
  4. Pretend theres a "balloon" just behind your naval, it fills up easily as you breathe in. The "balloon" springs back, without extra effort on your part, as you breathe out.
  5. To follow from the above note: Just let the air fall in and out, don't force it
  6. Check in with your breathing throughout the day, make sure you haven't reverted to old habits (like having your mouth open)

Position for breathing techniques

  • Sit up-right or lay down on your back
  • 1 hand on chest, 1 on belly
  • Let the belly rise up on the in-breath
  • Let the belly fall on the out-breath
  • Minimise upper chest expansion and neck muscle involvement

The exercises

Remember: Don't over do these exercises. Your natural rhythm should eventually follow, not forced, just easy. These exercises are designed to get you back into a more natural rhythm as described above.

Meditative breathing 3-pause-5-pause
This is a nice and easy technique that's great for relaxing the body and calming the mind before getting into meditation.
3 second inhale - pause - 5 second exhale - pause
The pause is about 1-2 seconds.
10-15 breaths, then just let the breath come and go as it wants.

The meditation part
Sit or lie comfortably.
Focus on getting into the rhythm of breathing, then once that is going try paying attention to your body and the sounds around you. Feel the contact of the floor or chair on your body. Notice how gravity gently nestles you into the floor or chair. Any sounds that are around you, don't try naming them or judging them, just notice them. There are no proper or improper sounds; it's all just sound.

If you have discomfort and pain, don't resist it. Just notice it. Focus on the rhythm of your breath. See if you can let gravity take hold of you even more on every out-breath. Notice how the discomfort and pain doesn't actually harm you. It's just a sensation. Annoying for sure, but it's just a sensation. Do not clench, do not resist...just let it be.

Thoughts will come. Let them. They're just echoes of the mind. Notice them like you notice the sounds. Say to yourself: "ah, thinking," and return the breath. You will probably have to do this a bit at first. That's ok, you can't still the mind no more than you still the ocean with a rolling pin. Just notice it and return to the breath.

Square breathing 4-4-4-4
This is an easy to remember exercise for when you need to get your breath in sync and calm down. Particularly good if you're having a panic attack, your mind is racing or you just feel jittery.

It's actually not so good of an idea to deep breathe when stressed. Returning to a normal breathing rhythm that is not forced is the goal. This will help you do that.
Inhale for 4 - Hold for 4 - Exhale for 4 - Hold for 4

Deep relaxation  4-7-8
For deep relaxation of course. Great when you're trying to nod off to sleep.
Inhale for 4 - Hold for 7 - Exhale for 8

Really focus on the bottom of the lungs filling up, then the middle, then the top. If this feels too forced, go shorter durations on in-breath, hold and out-breath. Just keep the ratio the same.

Final Note

There is so much, much more to breathing and breathing dysfunction. If you know you have poor breathing habits, snore, or have sleep apnea look into visiting a specialty breathing clinic. It will change your life more than you realise!

Book a massage now

Chris is a fully trained massage therapist, registered with Massage New Zealand
he has two diplomas in therapeutic and clinical massage therapy and a certificate in relaxation. 
Chris works from the historical Orewa House on the Hibiscus Coast.