Dr. Ben Allen coaches optimal breathing using heart rate variability biofeedback, pulse monitoring, and observational guidance. He also teaches chi gung. These measures help to fine tune the breathing – heart rate relationship, and strengthen the body organs. The benefits of good breathing are endless, and pitfalls of poor breathing habits may be negatively affecting not only health but also quality of life. The training program offers a quick way to learn and incorporate excellent breathing habits for a healthy way of life.
Here are some tips:
The Science of Good Breathing
In our society, we are seldom taught proper breathing. The most important thing you can do for good health is to incorporate proper breathing into daily life. Oxygen is required in abundance by every bodily cell. Life energy enters the body and mind through breathing. You can go for days without water or food, but three minutes without oxygen to the brain can kill brain cells permanently, as what happens in a stroke. Proper breathing keeps the body relaxed and healthy, centered and optimal. It increases energy and endurance, and enhances mental concentration and physical performance. It is the quickest way to release tension and stress.
Unhealthy breathing can lead to increased anxiety and mood imbalance. If habitual, unhealthy breathing can influence or exacerbate physical symptoms and illnesses. There are many healthy ways to breathe depending on your goal. In contrast, there are many unhealthy ways to breathe, and you should be aware any improper breathing habits to prevent negative effects on health and mental state, and avoid making them a habit. Also, by changing your breathing, you can change your state of mind and body to feel calmer and more poised.
Unhealthy Breathing Styles
- Thoracic (Chest) Breathing: with minimal abdominal breathing. This constricts range of motion in the diaphragm (breathing muscle), and can contribute to muscle tension and stressful mind.
- The Panic breath: Gasping in air with a deep and quick inhale, holding the breath, and shallow exhaling. Can lead to overexcitement and arousal, tight chest muscles and panic.
- Frequent Sighing: A complete and rapid exhale, while dropping the shoulders, with a minimal, or labored inhale. If constant, this is a depression in breathing, and can lead to state of apathy, imbalance, discouragement, low energy and fatigue.
- The Rage Breath”: An explosive exhale, while breathing out of rhythm, and holding the breath either on inhale or exhale. This can cause a tremendous pressure on the body, and feel taxing on the heart.
- Uneven Breathing: Breathing rhythm is out of alignment; too much inhale or exhale, holding the breath, etc. This can effect mood, fuel anxiety and tension, and throw natural biorhythms out of kilter.
- The Yawn and Sigh Breath: Not enough oxygen, which occurs when we are feeling bored, tired, or anxious. The chest is sunken, breathing is shallow, and diaphragm has diminished range of motion, so the body compensates with a yawn to draw in more oxygen.
- Paradoxical breathing: Breathing into chest and tightening abdominal muscles, and working against the heart’s natural rhythm. This can lead to tension headache, anxiety, high blood pressure, and general tension in the body.
- Belt too tight: Fashion includes wearing tight clothes. Tight belts worn high up in the waist, tight pants, and pantyhose can restrict breathing and bodily range of movement.
Does your breathing need improvement? Try Abdominal / Diaphragmatic Rhythmic Breathing. This breathing style is the most natural way to breathe. It can relive stress in the body and mind, and restore homeostasis – the body’s natural balance.
Technique: Relax your jaws, shoulders, chest, abdomen, back and all other muscles in your torso. Inhale through the nose in a smooth, continuous flow (minimize the sound of the breathing flow. Noise = constriction). Allow the following sequence: inhaling – fill the abdomen, then the lower ribs-chest-middle back all to about 70%, then immediate follow with a complete exhale, smooth and continuous (breathe out nose or mouth) without hesitancy or obstruction. Then upon completion of exhale, begin the next inhale and do the same cycle again. Repeat this cycle over and over. Do not pucker, tighten or strain a muscle, but be relaxed, like water. The key is to allow all muscles to relax and breathe as nature had intended. In a healthy heart, each inhale increase heart rate and each exhale decreases heart rate. This is the Yin / Yang of the mind / body connection. Also, with each exhale, imagine a river of warmth flowing into your hands and feet. By doing so, you can increase blood and energy circulation to these areas, which lowers anxiety and relaxes the heart.
This strategy is easy to learn because it’s what your body already knows. For better health and peace of mind, make health breathing a way of life.