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. 

Particularly women struggle with taking a feel breath as society has taught us that it is sexy to have a flat stomach and ripped abs. Sucking in your stomach means that your respiratory diaphragm simply does not have enough space to move. As a result, you end up breathing high into the chest, which doesn’t give you full breath capacity. 

SYMPTOMS OF BREATHING INCORRECTLY

When you breathe too fast, and only by expanding your chest, your body automatically activates its fight and flight response – your sympathetic nervous system. Now, this is very handy when you are exercising or running towards your favourite wine bar, but imagine what this does to your body when sitting behind a desk. It only creates more stress and anxiety, which is a no-no for your overall wellbeing.

Symptoms of breathing incorrectly can be:

  • 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 your body (and thus in your mind)
  • More stress – it’s a negative vicious circle

Proper breathing nourishes your body on a cellular level (from the inside out) and nurtures your 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 or private class might be a good first step to commence a yoga and meditation practice.

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

HOW TO BREATHE CORRECTLY

An ideal breath allows your abdomen and chest to expand at the same time, and contract simultaneously due to the up-and-down movement of our diaphragm. Think about creating a three-dimensional breath in your torso, where you gently expand your belly, ribcage, side body and chest to all four sides.

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

Count your breaths

We 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, start practicing a slower and fuller breath.

Feel your breaths

You can also place your hands on your lower rib cage or belly. Take a natural breath and notice if your 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.

Sabijn, founder of Retreat Here

- Sabijn Linssen


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