Learning good breathing techniques
The key to good technique is learning how to breathe with your diaphragm. That’s the muscle beneath your rib cage, the same one you use for singing or laughing. ‘If you’re breathing properly, you can feel your diaphragm pushing down into your belly,’ says Prinsen, who points out that through it isn’t crucial for the abdomen to go in and out while you’re breathing, it can be a good technique. If you’re guilty of holding in your stomach so that it looks flatter’and many women are’then you definitely aren’t using your diaphragm properly. And utilizing the diaphragm is the key to letting go of stress. ‘It sends a message to the nervous system that you’re relaxed,’ says Prinsen.
Daley says learning to control the breath is as simple as taking long, deliberate inhales at designated times throughout the day. He recommends counting to three as you breathe in, and then again as you exhale, making each inhale and exhale the same length, without pausing. ‘Not only does it make you aware of your breathing patterns, but it forces you to calm down and it draws your focus inward, like meditation does,’ says Daley. He also suggests lying down with a pillow under your upper back as an even easier method to practise calm breathing. Once you get good at it, you can practice calm breathing while you’re walking, doing dishes or sitting in your car at a stoplight.
Finding a daily breathing routine
Though Prinsen recommends deep breathing for 10 to 20 minutes a day, he says even practising for a minute every hour will have noticeable benefits. ‘It will completely change your mental and emotional state,’ he says. As an added bonus, he adds that good breathing has physical benefits for the whole body, as it helps reduce acidity and makes the body more alkaline. ‘If you have chronic acidity in your body tissue,’ he explains, ‘you’ll have a greater tendency to develop chronic disease.’ Isn’t that worth taking a deep breath for?