When you look at a newborn baby boy, you’ll notice his belly distinctly going up and down, up and down as he breathes. Try looking for the same distinct breathing movements in an adult and most probably you’ll have a hard time spotting it.
All of us are born with an innate ability to breathe deep, which experts say can improve mental alertness by improving oxygen flow and help prevent respiratory and heart diseases. Over the years, our breathing had devolved to become shallow and rapid, and now we’re masters at taking breaths without anyone noticing. And along with that, we’ve lost out on all the health benefits deep breathing can offer.
Learning to Breathe Properly
There are many types of breathing exercises that one can do, but for now we’ll focus on mid-chest breathing. This type of breathing, according to breathing master and yoga teacher Dominique Lonchant, can help diminish the fat around your heart, which accumulates due to faulty breathing in this area.
The benefits of mid-chest breathing:
- Helps to prevent heart disease
- Prevent cardiac relapse for those already suffering from a heart condition
- Athletic respiration which exercises your lungs: Fills the middle section of the lungs (thus allowing less air to enter than abdominal breathing) and uses considerably amount of effort
- Eliminates tension
Mid-Chest Breathing: The Basics
Mid-chest breathing is achieved by raising your ribs through expanding your chest wall like a pair of bellows. It can by physically difficult, but you can make it easier by relaxing all your muscles.
All good respiration begins with a slow and complete exhalation. Perfect exhalation is an absolute prerequisite of correct and complete inhalation – you can’t fill a jug completely with fresh water if it’s only been half emptied, can you? Unless we first breathe out fully, it is impossible to breathe in correctly.
- Start by slowly, and calmly exhaling while relaxing your muscles. You’ll feel your chest depressed by its own weight, expelling the air.
- This out breath must be as silent as every other action involved in breathing (you should not hear yourself breathe), and because it is silent, it will also be slow.
- At the end of the exhale the abdominal muscles help the lungs to empty to their fullest extent by contracting (this expels the last traces of tainted air).
- Empty the lungs completely and keep the abdominal muscles contracted so that it becomes impossible to breathe through the stomach.
- Throughout the inhalation, you should keep the stomach contracted in order to prevent any breathing through the diaphragm.
- You will notice a greater resistance to the entrance of air than you did during the abdominal breathing, which allowed entry to the largest volume of air with a minimum of effort. Don’t worry, despite the resistance, a fairly large quantity of air will enter while you are breathing.
If you don’t know how to begin, try following one of the videos below. The yoga postures help with mid-chest breathing problems and will prevent fat from forming around the heart. The exercises are also good for slowing down the heart beat rate.
Fish Posture I
Fish Posture Variation