Breathing Basics

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In order to survive, you have to breathe.  Breathing is something that we do 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Ok, I know that wasn’t mind blowing information but I think breathing is something that we take for granted.

You were automatically born with the knowledge of knowing how to breathe (this is true for most circumstances – I am not discounting that some people do have difficult births).  You were automatically programmed with knowledge at conception.  Shockingly, most adults have learned the incorrect way to breathe.  Yes, the incorrect way to breathe.  As I stated earlier, we were born with the ability to breathe.  If you watch an infant breathe, you will notice the belly expands during inhalation (breathing in) and deflates when exhaling (breathing out).  The belly moves in and out, not the chest.  In many instances, we have to retrain ourselves to breathe from the diaphragm and not the chest.

Why is Breathing Important?
Breathing can provide a magnifying glass into our current state of mind.  For example, we often breathe fast when upset or angry or breath slow when calm and relaxed.  To further illustrate this example, we are officially alive when we take our first breath.  In contrast, we are official deceased when we take our last breath.  We can conclude that breathing has an impact on our quality of life.

Pot Belly Breathing
The proper way to breathe is from the diaphragm not from the chest.  In my Kung Fu and Tai chi class we call diaphragm breathing “Pot Belly Breathing.”  The area of breathing is also called the Dan Tien.  The Dan Tien is the area just below your belly button.  The Dan Tien is your Energy Center/”Sea of Chi.”

Stomach woman body part

  • Chest Breathing tends to be shallow and delivers a minimal amount of oxygen to the bloodstream
  • Belly Breathing allows for greater airflow (inhalation) therefore exposing he blood vessels in your low lungs to more oxygen
  • Chest Breathing offers a shallow exhalation which leads to more carbon dioxide to stay in your body with every exhalation.
  • Belly Breathing allows for a deep exhalation which leads to more carbon dioxide inhalation which in turn allow more oxygen to fuel your body.

Pot Belly breathing really works!  I can personally testify that when sparred for hours upon hours, performed my forms (katas) and legs exercises in Tai Chi, my breathing was integral in surviving the workout.  When I take a deep “Pot Belly Breath”, my body becomes refreshed.  My ability to stay focussed and maintain my workout is enhanced ten fold.

Bottom line, the more oxygen in your body, the more efficient your body will be able to think, metabolize food (lose weight), fight disease, have energy, etc.

Retrain your Breathing
Breathing is simple with a little practice.  Place either hand below your belly button.  When you exhale, your belly should puff out and move your hand away from your body.  When you inhale, your belly should collapse (contract0 and move toward your body.

Please let me know if you need additional help regarding the basics of breathing.

Peace – Dale Scriven

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