The Benefits Of Breathing Exercises
Posted on 22nd August 2022 at 14:07
Breathing. We all do it, every second of every day. In fact, it’s not until you think about breathing do we really notice it.
Nowadays, many of us have lost the ability to deep breathe, and instead tend to take shorter, shallower breaths instead. In today’s blog, we’ll be talking about the importance of taking proper breaths and how breathing exercises can have a positive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing.
Why is breathing so important?
Breathing is the act of pulling air in through our mouth and into our lungs. We take in oxygen and remove carbon dioxide through gas exchange. The air that we breathe in has much higher percentage of oxygen than the air we breathe out. You probably remember that from science lessons at school.
What is ventilation?
Ventilation is the term for the movement of air to and from the alveoli of the lungs. The two aspects of ventilation are inhalation and exhalation. Blood vessels surround the alveoli of the lungs and this is where the exchange of gases takes place. The air with a higher oxygen level transfers into the blood, and the air with higher carbon dioxide levels becomes the air we breathe out.
What muscles do we use to breathe?
The main muscles used for breathing are the diaphragm, external intercostal muscles, and internal intercostal muscles. These muscles are located in between your ribs and expand and contract your ribcage as you breathe in and out.
There are other muscles that also support breathing such as your anterior, middle and posterior scalene muscles that are located in your neck. Because we generally use upper chest breathing instead of belly or diaphragmatic breathing, our neck muscles get over-used.
The links between breathing and anxiety
How you’re breathing is a great indicator of how you’re feeling. Quick shallow breaths are often a sign of feeling anxious, excited or stressed, whereas deep slow breaths can show that you’re relaxed and content.
Breathing to improve your physical health
Having been practising yoga regularly for the last few years, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of the importance of breath work. I’ve seen a huge improvement in my ability to get into and hold poses when my breath flows with the movement.
Another master of breathing is Wim Hof. I highly recommend you check out his website here. He’s achieved incredible things and now teaches his methods. The idea is to oxygenate and alkaline the body in order to gain benefits such as stress reduction, better sleep, improved sports performance, and more focus and mental clarity.
Breathing is just one of three pillars in the Wim Hof Method; the others are cold therapy and mindset training.
I have been trying Wim Hof’s method after my sister started doing it months ago and found a lot of her issues had gone after only a few weeks. For me, the morning is best just after you wake up. At first, you can feel a little lightheaded, but you do feel amazing all day.
I haven’t quite mastered the ice baths yet but I’m getting there one limb at a time!
How can massage help with my breathing?
When we start to feel the signs of stress our shoulders begin to rise, preventing us from breathing deeply. This results in shorter breaths and tightened neck and pec muscles.
Massage can help to release the tension found in the neck and shoulders to aid the correct muscles for deep breathing. By using certain sports massage techniques, we can help you to ease tension and improve your posture, both in which will help you breathe deeper.
To book your massage and experience higher quality breathing, contact us at Fire & Earth Coventry today.
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