‘Good Breathing’ Guide
Breathing well means moving air in and out of the chest with the minimum of effort and the correct muscles. This is to give you the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide you need to live and feel well.
The most important muscle used for your breathing is the DIAPHRAGM.
¨ The diaphragm is a strong flat muscle, which is attached to the lower edges of the ribs.
¨ It separates the chest from the gut.
¨ It is shaped like a dome of an umbrella when relaxed.
As you breathe IN it contracts and moves downwards, drawing air into your lungs. This causes your tummy to expand and rise.
As you breathe OUT the diaphragm moves upwards, expelling the air from your lungs.
Breathing-well also involves your lower ribs, which flare out gently, helping the diaphragm while the upper ribs remain relaxed.
It is only during increased activity that the upper chest opens up to draw in extra air that it needs. This can also happen when you are stressed.
Should I breathe through my nose or my mouth?
It is very important that you breathe in and out through your nose to allow the air to be filtered, warmed and moistened. It is ok to breathe through your mouth when you are exercising.
How slowly should I breathe?
At rest you should only be taking between 8-12 breaths in a minute.
When you are practising have a count of how many breaths you take in one minute.
How do I practise the ‘Good Breathing' technique?
¨ Get yourself into a comfortable position (start by lying with pillows to support you under your head and knees)
¨ Breathe in gently through your nose, feel your tummy rise and expand 'like a balloon' as you breathe in.
¨ Let the air 'fall' out of your chest without pushing. Breathe out lightly.
¨ Make sure you relax and pause at the end of each breath out
¨ When you breathe in, your upper chest should be relaxed and not moving. Place your hand on your upper chest to check this. You can also place your hand on your tummy and feel it moving or place an object on your tummy and watch it rise and fall e.g. box of tissues.
Practise your breathing-well technique as often as you can. Once you have it correct in lying try it in different positions, like sitting & standing. Sitting can
sometimes be the hardest position to get it right in so keep working at it.
Practise for a total of one hour a day, choose how you make up this hour, for example 5 minutes every hour or 4 lots of 15 minutes or two lots of half an hour. Work out which is the best for you that you can work into your day.