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Take a deep breath!

Go on take a deep breath. What did you do? I bet you took a big breath, by this I mean I bet your chest rose and you took in more air than normal. This is just what I did recently at a seminar I attended about breathing.

With a deep breath, what I am actually asking you to do is to breathe in the same volume of air as normal, but this time push it down to the bottom of your abdomen.

Abdominal breathing is the key. Let your abdomen move out when you inhale, your chest shouldn't lift.

Surprisingly studies from the 1980's onwards have shown that the following and whole lot more symptoms can all be caused, or made worse by poor breathing: Headaches, Migraines, Dizziness, Fainting, Anxiety, Poor Concentration, Poor Memory, Stress, Shortness of Breath, Irritable Cough, Rapid Heart Beat, Atypical Chest Pain, Poor Circulation, Head Pain, Shoulder Pain, Neck Pain, Back Pain, Sleep Disturbances, Snoring or, Exhaustion.

So why is poor breathing so endemic?

There are three reasons for poor breathing.

The first, and least common, is heart or lung disease. It makes sense to get these checked out with your doctor if you have any concerns.

The second and more common is a structural problem. Problems with the bones, muscles or nerves responsible for helping us breathe. That's when a structural check-up will help.

The third reason, and by far the most common, is that people don't breathe properly.

Surely everyone knows how to breathe?

Well yes they do but not many people know how to breathe well.

Consider this

Breathing is the most important thing you can do in your life. You can live for about 4 weeks without food, about 4 days without water, but only 4 minutes without breathing.

It's the first thing and last thing you ever do in your life. You do it lots during your life as well. You'd think we would get it right. The average person takes 30,000 breaths each day. Let's say they live for 75 years, this totals 821,250,000 breaths during the average life span. Imagine what the cumulative effect would be if each one was only a little off.

Going back to the opening exercise, there are three main problems with breathing.

Firstly people tend to breathe too quickly; secondly they take in too large a volume of air; and thirdly they gasp. In all cases this decreases the amount of carbon dioxide in the breath, and I know that this is a bit counter-intuitive but if you don't have enough carbon dioxide in the breath then the body isn't stimulated to absorb enough oxygen, which results in less oxygen in the blood and therefore less oxygen available for the organs.

So, abdominal breathing can be the answer.

The three things you need for good abdominal breathing.

1. Rate: The optimal rate for breathing at rest is between 8 and 14 breaths a minute. When practising aim for 6 breaths a minute, most people breathe too rapidly so this will help to slow you down.

2. Rhythm: The optimal rhythm for breathing is inhale to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 6 and hold the breath out for a count of 2. You shouldn't need to gasp for your next breath, it should be easy. Adjust your rate accordingly.

3. Volume: The volume shouldn't be significantly larger than your normal breath at rest. Your breathing should be silent. If you can hear it you are taking in too much air, either that or your nostrils are blocked. Try blowing your nose first. By the way breathing should be in and out through the nose, not the mouth.

Obviously poor breathing is not the only possible cause for the above list of symptoms; however, you might just find changing your breathing can make a big difference to your symptoms. It's free and easy to do. What have you got to lose by giving it a try?



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