Are you breathing properly?
For something we do 20,000 times a day - it’s surprising how little we think about how we breathe. But our breathing habits - and the quality of the air we inhale - are both important. “Breathing can affect everything from how you move, to your emotional well-being,” says sports scientist Luke Worthington. “It’s worth paying attention to.” Here’s your 3-step guide to better breathing.
1. Remove indoor pollutants
Think pollution = factories and busy roads? Think again. According to the World Health Organisation, there are up to five times as many pollutants in indoor areas as there are outside. Allergens like pollen, along with mould, dust, chemicals, gasses and other invisible pollutants are inside our homes and offices. And, yes, we inhale them.
A Dyson Pure Cool™Air Purifier lets you see the level of pollutants in your space, capturing them with a HEPA filter, and then projecting clean, cool air around the room. Even smarter, you can use the Dyson Link app to control your purifier remotely and come home to fresh, filtered air.
“The fewer pollutants we have the more effective our gas exchange will be i.e. getting rid of stale air and carbon dioxide and replenishing with oxygen,” says Luke. “That’s going to help balance our body’s pH levels, and lower that protective tension [where muscles are contracted] so you can move more freely.”
2. Engage the right respiratory muscles
We typically use just a third of our lung capacity. This shallow breath only sends air into the chest, whereas a good, deep breath starts in the abdomen and rises into the ribcage. First, learn to activate the muscles around your diaphragm. This simple exercise will help:
“Lie down and squeeze your heels into the floor,” instructs Luke. “Take a deep breath through your nose, and exhale strongly through the mouth, as if you’re blowing out a candle. You should be aware of your stomach muscles working. When all the air is gone, pause slightly before you breathe in again. Do this three times.”
“Now bring the soles of your feet together, knees bent outwards,” says Luke. “Repeat the three breaths, but this time, add some resistance - put both hands on the bottom of your ribs, when you exhale push down with your hands.” Feel those muscles switching on? As you strengthen your diaphragm you’ll find your breath deepening.
3. Commit to daily breathwork
Consciously focussing on the quality of your breathing is known as breathwork. Like meditation, a regular routine makes a difference. “Breath connects all parts of the body. Practicing 10 minutes a day will provide more energy, improved sleep and better digestion,” says Alan Dolan, aka The Breath Guru. Beginners can try his Breathguru app, which audio guides you through simple breath sessions.
Don’t have time for dedicated practice? You can still use breathwork in your daily life. For example, as a quick energy boost: “Inhale through the mouth as deeply as you can, keep going, inflating the abdomen fully, like a balloon,” says Alan. “Now exhale - a short, soft sigh like you’re fogging the glass in a mirror.”
Even a single, purposeful breath can calm our nervous system. “When you’re stressed, place a hand on your lower abdomen and take one deep breath in and out the mouth.
Video: How To Breathe Properly While Running | 2 Breathing Techniques
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