Three ways to Breath
There are three ways we Breath
There are three basic types of breathing,
clavicle or collarbone breathing,
intercostal or chest breathing and
diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing.
In the first type clavicular breathing air is brought into the chest by raising the clavicles otherwise known as the collarbone.
We breathe in this way when we need oxygen rapidly.
During rigorous exercise or in a panic state like if you're running from danger, you know this type of
The shoulder and the collarbone pump up and down and we breathe through our mouths and although this
shallow breathing brings in oxygen rapidly it's only designed for short amounts of time because it requires
a lot of effort.
This type of breathing not only expends a lot of energy but it also brings oxygen only into the top
third of the lungs and no deeper.
Some women get into this habit due to having children.
Pregnancy can often make it hard for them to breathe deeply and after months and months of shallow breathing
and it often becomes an ingrained habit of breathing high and shallow that goes on long after the child
But this is just one example of how we can get into poor breathing habits.
Many people who slouch or spend a lot of time sitting or driving or those who are overweight tend to
have postures that inhibit deep breathing and they've conditioned themselves to collarbone breathe.
It's said that some people who smoke cigarettes do so in part because of the satisfaction they feel after
pulling oxygen deeper into their lungs when they inhale the smoke which is why proper breathing can also be an effective way to quit smoking.
This is also how a large part of the population breath especially as we get Older which brings a lot of Health Problems
The second type of breathing is called intercostal or chest breathing.
This is where we breathe into the rib are. The intercostal muscles are the muscles that run between the ribs.
These muscles expand and shrink the size of the chest cavity to facilitate breathing.
This type of shallow breathing draws in a minimal amount of breath into the lungs by drawing air into
the chest area. Chest breathing fills the middle and upper parts of the lungs but not the lower part.
As opposed to deep diaphragmatic breathing as we'll discuss below,
Chest breathing requires more work to accomplish the same mixing of blood and gas than deep breathing.
Since more work is required, more oxygen is needed and so you have to take in more breaths.
This results in more work to be done by the heart.
So this isn't the most efficient way to breathe.
However this is the way that most people breathe every day.
Anxiety is often associated with chest breathing also during times of fear aggression or other types of powerful feelings.
The diaphragm freezes up in an attempt to contain these emotions in the lower regions of the body
and keep them out of the awareness of the conscious mind in an attempt to protect us.
So chest breathing ensues in these times. Physical and emotional stress such as an accident or an
emotional crisis or getting ready to give a public speech or performance
prompts the body's defense mechanisms in preparation to deal with the confrontation by either fighting
it or running away from it.
We've all experienced this at some time or another our hearts pound our palms are sweaty there's a bit
of anxiety in us and in this state the sympathetic nervous system is activated and we'll get more into
the nervous system later.
But basically the sympathetic nervous system is used for emergency fight or flight situations when activated
the heart rate increases blood is flooded into the legs and arms and it's diverted away from the digestive
and excretory and sexual organs because you don't have to eat go to the bathroom or have sex, or when running from a tiger which is what the system was originally designed to do run from or fight danger. The parasympathetic nervous system does the opposite,
it helps us to rest and digest to be calm and at ease. The two nervous systems they work in harmony
to bring balance the body.
But in our world of too much stress
we've trained our sympathetic nervous system to dominate resulting in shallow chest breathing and anxiety
both acute and chronic to run as an automatic.
Also not only does being anxious cause chest breathing but chest breathing also causes the sympathetic
fight or flight nervous system to activate.
So if we're caught in a habit of chest breathing,
this alone can trigger anxiousness for no other reason than the fact that we're breathing shallow.
As you can see this type of habitual breathing causes oxygen deprived lives resulting in stress anxiety
dis-ease and lack of mind body harmony.
It's often the cause of sexual dysfunction and digestive issues like constipation due to the sexual and digestive system is being shut down and a slew of other health issues.
Luckily we can change this destructive habit and bring natural harmony back into the body by learning
to be conscious and breathe properly.
Which brings us to the third type of breathing.
Diaphragmatic or Abdominal breathing.
This is the deepest breath where we can take in the most amount of oxygen. During what's become "normal"
the average person takes in about 500 cubic centimeters of air, during deep inhalation the intake is about six times as great amounting to almost 3000 cubic centimeters.
Diaphragmatic breathing has a host of benefits and helps manage a wide variety of ailments from
sleeplessness and irritable
bowel syndrome to depression and anxiety.
This is the natural and proper way we should breathe in everyday life.
If you place your hands on your belly and you picture it filling up like a balloon on the inhalation
and dropping back down on the exhalation you can begin to experience this type of breathing.
It's interesting to note here that our popular views on body image come into play here as well.
Normal abdominal breathing pushes the abdomen out which is the opposite of our fashionable images of
slim waisted bathing beauties.
Ever heard anyone say suck in that Belly or found yourself doing this.
Well this only leads to an increased dependence on chest breathing to make up for the body's oxygen requirements not to mention tension in the chest and abdomen region.
So in an attempt to assimilate with which we've been sold to be beautiful,
we compromise our health in ways that could have devastating effects on our health and well-being.
You often see Master yogis or rounded bellies,
it's the sign of proper breathing and relaxation and yogis believe that controlling the breath and calming
the nerves is a prerequisite to controlling the mind and controlling of the mind is a prerequisite to
control the universal energy which they call prana.
But all that aside proper abdominal breathing helps you to just relax which lowers the harmful effects
of the stress hormone cortisol. Abdominal, or belly breathing also helps to lower the heart rate, lowers
it's been successful to help individuals with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD,
it helps to increase your body's ability to make energy and at the same time it conserves energy
improving your body's ability to exercise and the core stability of your muscles.
One of the core key elements to this simple belly breath is that it reduces stress which helps your immune
system to operate at its most optimal.
Chronic stress leads to a variety list of mental and physical issues; anxiety, depression, digestive problems,
headaches, heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration
impairment and even death.
I know I sound like one of those pharmaceutical commercials.
Well luckily for us we don't need drugs to fix the problem.
All we need is what we were all born with, our breath and our awareness.
So let's do a few rounds of this breathing together.
A couple of weeks practising Diaphragmatic breathing each day and you will find this good habit will become the norm .
lookout for some breathing meditations on this website .