Breathing is essential for survival and vitality. Most of us cannot survive for more than 5 to 10 minutes without oxygen. When we breathe we take in oxygen, essential for all bodily functions and, therefore, it is the key to nourishing the body and to achieving vitality.
However, when most people take a deep breath they push out their chest as they breathe in. We use a fraction of our lung capacity and our breathing is shallow.
We can learn a lot from the way babies breathe. They all breathe from their bellies and so use all their lung capacity. However, as we get older, we breathe more from the chest, which is much more inefficient since the stale air stays in the bottom of our lungs. As a result fresh air has a hard time reaching the lower section of the lungs where the blood vessels are wettest and warmest and so most efficient for moving oxygen into the blood.
Correct breathing is important for physical and mental health. By learning to breathe correctly we can increase our energy levels. Simply by slowing down our rate of breathing, for example, we start to change the chemistry in the body from an acidic pH to an alkaline pH.
If you are interested in learning further correct breathing exercises, I would recommend attending specialised classes. Hatha yoga can train us how to breathe properly again since, from the start, emphasis is given to proper breathing. We learn to push out the stomach as we breathe in, then the breath filling up the chest and right up to the collarbones. As we breathe out we are encouraged to contract our abdominal muscles. Breathing is ideally slow, regular and rhythmical, ideally between 12 and 20 breaths a minute. By breathing this way for a few minutes a day you can combat stress and improve your overall health generally.