Shake Up Your Style by MSW

Lifestyle with Melanie Suzanne Wilson
happiness | Wellness

Pursuing better breathing

October 22, 2018
Breathing and meditation at work or anywhere

Strategies to consider when trying to improve breathing

We all need to become more conscious of our breathing. A focus on calm deep breathing can be highly beneficial. I am not from a medical background. I simply discovered the positive impact on my own life. Some of my ways could help others for better breathing.

I became very conscious of my breathing during pregnancy. My body breathed differently as my whole physicality changed. My attention was drawn towards this basic need. Looking to find practical steps towards improved breathing, I explored various options and strategies.

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Breathe
Breathe calmly wherever you are.
Image: iStock, edited

Regular short breaks

Whether you’re at an office or staying active at home, we all need breaks. Part of my breathing strategy involves giving this my full attention for a few minutes. Sure, we can improve our breathing during any activities. But let’s also skip the multitasking when possible.

Various daily activities could prompt changes in our bodies that are physical and emotional. Say you’re sitting in a meeting at the office and the discussion becomes rather difficult. You feel frozen in that chair. As your whole being stays still, you develop a tense inhalation. That’s not a technical term. Then you’re rushing for a commute on the train. Keeping that brisk walk to the station, you end up feeling out of breath. Puff. Puff. Puff. You arrive at home and start tidying the house. Rush. Rush. Rush. Trying to get it all done. It’s time to allow breaks of just a few minutes, wherever you are, to become more centred.

Here’s what I would do in each of those situations. Dedicate 2-5 minutes in each environment to prioritise breathing. At an office, this might require waiting until a spare moment. Sit where you won’t be interrupted if possible. It could be the desk or a corner somewhere. If you’re on a quiet enough commute in public transport, put on some earphones and get into your own world for a while. When arriving at home after a busy day, just stop in a quiet space for a few minutes before evening tasks. Sometimes we can gain solitude for our quiet time. Sometimes we can only achieve elements of calmness wherever we are. There’s normally a way to gain an amount of peacefulness to then momentarily focus on breathing.

Mindfulness meditation

There’s an abundance of meditation programs that guide breathing. I downloaded the following meditation apps on my phone: Abide, Calm and Headspace. There are also meditation classes for those who prefer meditating in groups. A meditation practice can use breathing and other mindfulness techniques to feel more centred.

Here’s the top reason why I like meditation. It’s a simple skill that doesn’t require athletic or religious meaning. Other people find calmness from yoga. But I don’t perceive my body as being capable of such stretching. Those who practice spiritual meditation are free to do so. But I lean towards meditation programs from psychological publishers.

We also don’t have to sit on a mat or the floor to meditate. I don’t normally feel comfortable when sitting on the floor. Yet that’s the stereotypical position for meditation. I just sit on a comfortable seat that won’t be distracting. So by all means, don’t choose a bumpy bench or a wonky plastic chair. I will happily meditate on a soft sofa. Meditation involves focusing on the breathing and mindfulness in a meditation session. This can be done in all sorts of positions. The main priority is to feel comfortable enough and not distracted.

Deeper breathing from the tummy

It’s common knowledge that air goes through the lungs in the chest. But did you know about how the abdomen helps us to breathe? I discovered this secret during some musical hobbies when growing up. That same breathing technique helped me during public speaking, comfortably projecting my voice with or without a microphone. Anyone can start breathing from deeper within.

Do you ever get that shallow out-of-breath feeling? Here’s how I try and avoid it. When breathing in, inflate the tummy like a balloon. Don’t worry about looking bloated. Then breathe out by pushing that air out with muscle power from your tummy. It’s like deflating the balloon. The diaphragm is in action.

This method should feel like much deeper breathing than if we just used chest muscles. I’m just giving some hints based on my own past experience. If you need more guidance on how to do this, ask for advice from a medical professional.

The below image, along with this entire article, is not medical advice. It’s a stock image that helps us to understand our bodies in relation to breathing.

Inspiration and expiration diagram
Inspiration and expiration diagram.
Image: iStock




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