Author: Dr. Gary Huber
Most of us breathe vertically (up and down) and don't properly use our diaphragm to belly breath. This short discussion will get you started breathing properly to help detox, acid pH balance, oxygenation and stress reduction.
Seems like an odd question but do you know how to breathe? Properly? Of course we know how to breathe but let me share a few insights that are common to us all. 90% of all people don't breathe properly most of the day. What does that mean? Our most efficient breath is accomplished through “belly breathing”. BUT . . . since most of us are stressed and hurrying through the day we tend to breathe vertically (up and down) taking mere sips of air that expand our upper lung but not the more important lower lung fields. The diaphragm is a broad sheet of muscle that sits under the lungs, separating them from the belly. When it contracts it pushes the belly down and out (forward) to allow room for the lower lungs to expand and fill with air. If we dont engage it then we never clear out the old stale air in the lung bases and we never get a full breath.
Look at a sleeping dog, a baby or any sleeping human for that matter and you notice the belly pushes OUT when we inhale. This is the diaphragm dropping down creating a pulling sensation on the lungs to take air into the large bases (bottom) where greatest air exchange occurs. But we have been taught to walk around with our bellies sucked in and our chest out like a tin soldier. We feel stressed and so instead of taking in large breaths that fill our lung bases we take little tiny sips of air that barely fill our upper lungs. The bases never get to fully exhale or inhale so there is stale air full of carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide makes us acidic which is unhealthy. Being acidic means we struggle to properly detoxify and we invite cancer growth as cancer loves an acidic environment.
Moving your diaphragm in proper breathing also helps to milk your lymphatic system which is what drains your brain and body of garbage. In contrast, when he sit hunched over our laptops with our head down we are blocking the lymphatic drainage from our brain. Imagine what standing up and belly breathing might do for your mental fog! Your central nervous system has a critical verve called the Vagus nerve (no, not Las Vegas, that's my next article). This Vagus nerve stimulates "calm" and slows our heart rate down. It runs right through the diaphragm to enter your gut to aid in digestion. The Vagus nerve gets a free massage every time you belly breath and thus sends calming signals back to your brain. Studies show that taking 6 belly breaths in a row changes your state of being from anxious to calm. Doubt me? Try it.
Ever experienced the sensation that you can’t get a deep breath, especially when you feel tense or stressed? It is because you are vertical breathing and not belly breathing. So let's learn how to breathe.
You already know how to do this but your body has forgotten and needs to be retrained. It’s easy. Lie down on your back and place a book on your belly button. Inhale through your nose and focus on taking a deep breath in while you push your belly button and that book toward the ceiling. Now allow yourself to exhale and as you reach the end of your natural exhale realize that there is actually MORE air still left in your lungs and push it out as you pull your diaphragm back up into the ribs – the belly button drops down close to your spine during this exhale. Take another deep breath and again focus on PUSHING your belly button out, up toward the ceiling. Yes, it feels weird at first but as you develop this natural rhythm you will discover that it feels great. You feel full of oxygen and it in fact leads to relaxation. This is natural and easy and you need to practice to make it your new habit. Do it while driving, while at your desk, while exercising, all day long.
Make a habit of taking 30 or 40 such belly breaths when you first awaken each morning, before you ever get out of bed. As you drive to work focus on “where is my breath?” Practice belly breathing while you drive or while you sit at your desk. Every time you feel stressed, ask yourself “where is my breath”, take a few deep belly breathes and again commit to this type of breathing.
In a matter of days if you do this you will find it easy and natural. Your nervous system will be more calm, your pH more alkaline, your blood better oxygenated, your kidneys will more easily detoxify, and your brain will drain garbage more easily. For more insights and discussion about this important topic see Dr. Binaco's video, “Dysfunctional Breath & Belly Breathing”. Also, read about "Coherent Breathing". Yes grasshopper, you have much to learn. Enjoy!!