Many people do not practice the correct breathing techniques for optimum comfort and health but never realize their mistake. Although breathing is something that comes naturally, there are ways to improve breathing in both form and quality. Having correct posture is the first step, as this gives the lungs more room to expand in the chest. To stand correctly, the spine should go straight up and down and the ears should be directly in line with the shoulders. Once this step is mastered, there are several exercises which may help improve breathing.
The first thing to remember is to take deep breaths that raise the stomach. Many people breathe using their chest, but it is important to pay close attention to the motion of the abdomen. When the diaphragm fills with air, the stomach extends outward and the chest doesn’t move much at all. During exhalation, the stomach should go back in. This should be practiced daily until full diaphragm-supported breathing is second nature.
To practice this breathing technique, it is a good idea to pay close attention to each breath for a set amount of time each day. Holding one hand over the abdomen and taking deep, slow, breaths will help one to become more in tune with his or her body in order to ensure proper abdominal breathing. This should be practiced standing upright, while sitting, and while lying down on the back.
Maintaining a healthy weight and working out regularly are also good ways to improve breathing. Doing cardiovascular exercises causes the heart rate and breathing rate to increase, and slowly allows the lungs to take in more oxygen-rich air. Keeping excess fat at bay is also important because belly bulge can put added strain on the chest wall and lungs, thus keeping them from fully expanding with each breath.
There are other factors which can help to improve breathing which are not directly related to technique. Eating fruits and vegetables has been proven to enhance breathing, for instance. Avoiding harmful fumes and cigarette smoke are also important steps, as these substances can cause irreparable damage to the lung tissue.
Breathing may also be improved by avoiding restrictive clothing and by making sure the body is relaxed and tension free as much as possible. Anything which restricts the comfort of the abdomen as it extends during a breath will make allowing full breaths harder to do. This is counterproductive, especially for those who are still in the process of learning proper breathing techniques.