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It seems unlikely that one of the very few things we were able to do at birth, we do wrong. Breathing. How hard can it be? By now you have probably taken notice to your own breath. By now you have DEFINITELY taken notice to your own breath.
Do you feel your chest rising? Maybe your shoulders are moving just a little bit. Take a big deep breath now. Did you feel your back open up when you took that breath in? Did your shoulders really rise up? Maybe you even felt your arms become a little lighter off the table or your lap.
Yeah, you breathe wrong.
You should have felt your belly getting bigger. If you are wearing a tight shirt, you might have even felt it tug. That my friend, is how you are supposed to breathe, through the belly, not the chest.
Are you unsure at this point if you are a chest or belly breather? Maybe you are a little bit of both? Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach and watch to see which one moves. If the chest is moving, lie down and do it again. Keep breathing and focusing on only breathing through your stomach! When you can successfully only breathe through your belly for a full minute, try doing it sitting up. Once you master that, then standing!
However, being able to do it is one thing, doing it all day long is another. Whenever you can, try to think about your breathing and focus on the belly. One easy reminder is at the top of ever hour, focus on your breathing. It takes repetition, but the sooner you get started, the better off you'll be!
Why does it matter? Well, let's paint a picture. I am not a good painter, but thankfully this is writing. Imagine having a hybrid car, it runs off both gas and electricity. Great for the environment right, even better for your wallet! Now imagine with that hybrid it no longer is able to use the electricity. Suddenly you are using more gas which means more stops at the gas station. Now that extra 20 dollars a month is being spent on gas rather than something fun, like ice cream.
That is how are bodies work too. Belly breathing is the most efficient way of breathing. When breathing calmly through the belly, it takes a total of one muscle to perform this action, the diaphragm. That's the pesky little guy who also gives you hiccups when it's unhappy. When you breathe out calmly, that takes a total of zero muscles!
Let's take a look at chest breathing. First, we have to use muscles to move the chest, this includes the intercostals to expand the ribs. We also have to use the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) and the anterior, middle, and posterior scalenes to lift the rib cage. For sake of argument, take my word when I say there are about another 13 muscles that are used to assist moving the ribcage for breathing. Our muscles are made to be active, but not THAT active.
All the stress of having that many muscles activated all day long will take its toll on the body. Like the extra 20 dollars of gas for our car to be inefficient, our body is paying with minutes, hours, and days of our lives. It is making our bodies tense and uncomfortable. Sure, maybe you don't realize it right now. A high school football player doesn't realize his locker room smells horrid either.
Treat your body right and it'll treat you even better.