This is not a trick question. Let’s check if you are: Take a deep breathe. Fill your lungs with as much air as you can and exhale slowly. Now tell me did you expanded your chest and probably pushed back your shoulders to take in all the air. If you did, you are not breathing right. In our everyday lives we go about utilising only 1/3rd capacity of our lungs and so we are not taking in as much oxygen as we are meant to take in.
Notice a baby or an animal breathing, their belly will rise and fall with every breathe. When we were born we used to breath correctly – with our bellies. With our diaphragm rising and falling as we exhaled and inhaled. The bottom 13% of our lungs bring in 60ml oxygen per minute while the top 7% brings in only 4ml. We go about our days with shallow breaths that compromise on the amount of oxygen we take in every day, every second, with every breathe.
Deep breathing for only a few minutes is known to relax your body. You can try this now. Either lie down or sit up with your back straight. Now keep your hand on your belly and inhale for 3 seconds – feel your belly rise up (your chest might also expand but your belly will rise further). Exhale slowly for 5 seconds. Repeat 3-4 times. After, you will experience a calming, relaxed sensation (this might even make you sleepy!).
Breathing is one of the things we take for granted. Shallow breaths reflect a stressed state in the body. You can consciously intervene to bring your body out of this stressed state. Even in Yoga, pranayama is the control of prana (life) through breathing. The body’s energy is seemingly drawn out through deep conscious breaths.
So now you know the right way to breath, but since you have been breathing wrong for so long, it will take you practice to now start breathing correctly. Start today, be conscious. Especially when you are angry, stressed, or tired- take time to notice how you are breathing, then correct it. Thats it, easy no?