When you inhale, your blood cells get oxygen for use in metabolism, of which one of the waste products is carbon dioxide, which is released when you breathe out (along with oxygen, minus whatever amount that you were able to use). People usually do not pay much attention to breathing, but this can be a mistake.
The balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen exchange can be disturbed if one’s breathing is not right. This can lead to an imbalance of your physical, mental and emotional state. Furthermore, it can progress to sleeping disorders, anxiety, depression, panic attacks and many other physical and mental ailments.
Continue reading to find out how to control & regulate breathing, the benefits of proper breathing, as well as some simple breathing exercises that may be beneficial to perform daily.
The Breathing Apparatus
Everyone knows that the lungs are the main organ used for breathing, but there is a lot more going on inside. The lungs get air with oxygen into our body with the assistance of blood vessels, and they also dispose of carbon dioxide carried in the blood vessels.
The air travels through the body’s airways, which consist of the following body parts:
- Nose and its cavities
- Bronchial tubes and branches
Besides the lungs, there are muscles which we use for breathing. These muscles adjacent to the lungs help them contract and expand. Those muscles are:
- Intercostal muscles
- Muscles surrounding the collarbone and the neck
- Abdominal muscles
The diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle. It is located below the lungs and separates the abdominal cavity from the chest cavity. When you breathe in, the diaphragm narrows and creates room for the lungs to spread out inside the chest.
The intercostal muscles have the same function as the diaphragm, except they make room in the chest in a different manner. They contract when you breathe in while moving the rib cage and allowing the lungs to expand.
If your respiratory system is doing its job as intended, it will allow you to breathe properly and use your lung capacity to the fullest.
How to Control & Regulate Breathing Using the Diaphragm
It is important to know how to control & regulate breathing using your diaphragm so that you can reap all its benefits. Diaphragmatic breathing performed on a regular basis can bring you the following benefits:
- You will need lower amounts of oxygen
- You will make your diaphragm stronger
- You will need to use less energy and effort in order to breathe properly
- You will breathe at a slower rate which also makes the process easier
There are many breathing exercises you can do at home that improve the way you use your diaphragm. They are very simple techniques which take less than 30 minutes a day, but if you do them regularly, you will see the results very soon.
If you are new to breathing exercises, limit yourself to between five and ten minutes at first, up to four times a day. It may seem difficult and tiring in the beginning, but that is because you are not used to diaphragmatic breathing.
Once you get the hang of it, you will realize it is a better and easier way to breathe. When you see improvement, feel free to increase the duration of these exercises.
Diaphragm Breathing in a Seated Position
- Bend your knees while sitting in a relaxed and cozy position.
- Make sure your head, neck and shoulders are relaxed.
- Observe how your diaphragm moves by placing one hand below the rib cage and the other one on the upper part of the chest.
- Feel your stomach with your hand as you breathe in gently through the nose.
- Steadily hold your hand on the chest.
- Use your abdominal muscles to exhale. Keep holding the hand still when you breathe out with pursed lips, making a “whoosh” sound.
- Keep breathing this way until you have reached the set time limit or when you start to feel tired.
Diaphragm Breathing While Lying Down
- Bend your knees as you’re lying on the back.
- For additional support, put pillows under your knees and head.
- Again, use your hands to follow the diaphragm’s movement, one hand below the rib cage and the other on the upper chest.
- Feel your stomach expand, pressing your hand while you slowly breathe in through your nose.
- Rest your hand on your chest, keeping it still.
- Purse your lips, making a whoosh sound when you exhale. Make sure your stomach muscles are engaged while exhaling.
- Continue breathing this way until the time is up or until you feel discomfort.
Additional Tips for Improvement of Your Breathing
Do you want to learn how to control & regulate breathing? Here are some tips to help you improve the way you breathe:
- Maintain proper posture – If you always carry a good posture, your chest and the thoracic part of your spine will have the flexibility to expand to their full potential. You will also be able to completely expand your diaphragm and rib cage. The frontal part of your body will have an increased range of motion too. All of this will not only let you breathe better but also help you in other activities, such as working out.
- Make sure to stretch – Become tension-free by doing some resistance or flexibility exercises. You can do any activities that include movement, stretching or even get a massage.
- Other things you can do – Eating a healthy diet is always a good start. You can meditate if you find it helpful; many people pair it with breathing exercises. Get plenty of sleep but also mind your sleeping position.
Breathe in Breathe out
If you are in control of your breathing, you will breathe more easily and with less effort. Breathing exercises can calm you and help you with your daily activities. If you are doing it right, your breath should make very little or no sound.
If you use breathing exercises on a daily basis, you can achieve great improvement in your overall lung capacity. For the best results, always maintain a good posture.