Did you know that most of us breathe incorrectly? Do you know how many breaths you take per minute?

On average we take between 8,000 and 30,000 breaths per day. As breathing happens automatically we often don’t realise how essential it is for our health and wellbeing. You could say that Breathing is the New Black.

While in rest mode, a healthy breath pattern means you inhale and exhale about 8 times per minute. Less for athletes, more if you’re stressed. A full in- and exhale counts as one breathing round.

Most of us only breathe with the top part of our lungs which means we are literally depriving ourselves of oxygen. Stress and bad posture are two major causes of inefficient breathing. 

In particular for us ladies, we struggle with the fact that society has taught us that it is sexy to have a flat stomach and ripped abs. We tend to suck in our stomachs, which means that our respiratory diaphragm simply does not have enough space to move. As a result, we end up breathing into our chest. 

Breathing incorrectly

When we breathe too fast and too high up in our chest, we can activate our fight and flight response (sympathetic nervous system). Now, this is very handy when exercising or running towards our favourite wine bar, but imagine what this does to our body when we’re sitting behind a desk. It only creates more stress and anxiety, and we all know what that does to our wellbeing:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling rushed
  • Less energy
  • Heart palpitations
  • Inability to absorb nutrients
  • Pressure on your chest
  • The feeling that you can’t take a full inhale
  • Dizziness
  • Tension in the body (and thus in the mind)
  • More stress – it’s a negative vicious circle

Proper breathing nourishes our body on a cellular level (from the inside out) and nurtures our muscles and brain. Rather than spending tons of money on face serums and oxygenated health elixirs, you are better off focussing on fuller breaths. If you’re unsure where to start, a yoga retreat might be the perfect first step to commence a yoga and meditation practice.

the importance of breathing correctly
Morning yoga at one of our retreats in Victoria

How do you know if you’re breathing incorrectly?

An IDEAL breath allows your abdomen and chest to expand at the same time, and contract at the same time due to the up-and-down movement of our diaphragm.

To test if you are breathing correctly and fully, you can try the below:

Count your breaths

I invite you to count how many breaths you take per minute. Do this a few times per day (i.e. once in the morning, once in your afternoon break and again in the evening). If you count more than 15 breaths per minute, we have some work to do 🙂

Feel your breaths

You can also place your hands on your lower rib cage, fingers at the front, thumbs at your back body. Take a natural breath and notice if the ribs are moving laterally (out to the sides). If they don’t, you might be holding on to unnecessary tension, or you may be breathing high up in your chest.

Not sure if you are breathing correctly and need some guidance? We highly recommend you find a local yoga instructor, or – if you live in Melbourne, feel free to join one of our retreats or book a private yoga class with our founder Sab via her mobile yoga studio.

Sab, founder of Retreat Here

- Sab