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Monday, April 23, 2018

Correct Breathing and Good Posture

Correct Breathing and Good Posture

Breath is life. Without food and water, you can still survive a while, but without breath you die in minutes. Optimum breath is correct breathing.

The importance of correct breathing cannot be overstated. Breathing is responsible for over 99 percent of your entire oxygen and energy supply. Correct breathing not only provides ample oxygen to your lungs for long-term holistic health, but also nourishes your body in the form of internal vital life energy, known as qi. This life-giving energy is responsible for the growth and rejuvenation of your body cells and organs by supplying them with oxygen and nutrients.

Good posture contributes to correct breathing—which is breathing with deep and long breaths. Incidentally, rodents, with the shortest breaths in the animal kingdom, have the shortest lifespan. Therefore, breathing correctly is an important component of holistic health and healing.

Unfortunately, the average people reach their peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid 20s. Then their respiratory capacity begins to decline by as much as 10 to 20 percent for every decade of life!

Poor breathing leads to chronic maladies, such as allergies, anxiety, asthma, depression, fatigue, headaches, high blood pressure, impaired heart conditions, obesity, sleep deprivation, and stress, among others. As a matter of fact, all diseases are caused or worsened by poor breathing.

To enhance your correct breathing, learn diaphragm breathing.

Diaphragm Breathing

Consciously change your breathing pattern. Use your diaphragm to breathe. If you place one hand on your breastbone, feeling that it is raised, with the other hand above your waist, feeling the diaphragm muscle moving up and down, then you are practicing diaphragm breathing correctly. When you put your hand on your tummy, you feel it expanding upwards when you breathe in. When you breathe in correctly, the air fills up the lower parts of your lungs first and then goes upwards. When you breathe out, your chest pushes out your breath and your tummy then deflates and lowers again.

This is how you do your diaphragm breathing:

Sit comfortably.
Begin your slow exhalation through your nose.
Contract your abdomen to empty your lungs.
Begin your slow inhalation and simultaneously make your belly bulge out.
Continuing your slow inhalation, now, slightly contract your abdomen and simultaneously lift your chest and hold.
Continue your slow inhalation, and slowly raise your shoulders. This allows the air to enter fully your lungs to attain the complete breath.
Retain your breath with your shoulders slightly raised for a count of 5.
Very slowly exhale the air.
Repeat the process.

Learn to slowly prolong your breath, especially your exhalation. Relax your chest and diaphragm muscle, so that you can extend your exhalation, making your breathing out complete.

To prolong your exhalation, count “one-and-two-and-three” as you breathe in and breathe out. Make sure that they become balanced. Once you have mastered that, then try to make your breathing out a little longer than your breathing in.

Good Posture

You can always enhance your breathing through improving your posture.

Despite the importance of good posture for optimal breathing, good posture is often overlooked because there is no one constantly reminding you to improve your posture; just as correct breathing is taken for granted because you “think” breathing is second nature to you, but often it is not. Correct breathing is constant awareness of your breaths and your posture.

You cannot breathe right without correct posture. Good posture means in any standing position, you body posture should be as follows:

Your head is directly above your shoulders.
Your chin is tucked in. 
Your ear, shoulder, and hip are in a straight line from a side view.
Your upper back is straight, not slouched.
Your shoulders, relaxed and straight, are flat against your back.
Your pelvis is in a neutral position.
Your knees are unlocked.

This is how you can improve your posture, in particular, your standing posture: to stand up straight, you require a straight spine, straight shoulders, and no slumping.

These are the steps to improve your standing posture: 

Stand with your feet hip-width apart (for better balance).
Align your ears, shoulders, and hips (Using a mirror for alignment).
Unlock both knees (maintaining “neutral” pelvis; that is, avoiding you pelvis tilting forward).
Pull in your abdominal muscles.
Inhale naturally.
Exhale slowly while pulling your belly button into the spine.
Lift your rib cage by straightening your rounded upper back; while expanding your lungs for deeper breathing.
Realign your head over your shoulders. Make sure your head is not leaning backward.
Un-round your shoulders by rotating your arms until your palms are facing your thighs.
Gently press your shoulders down, away from your ears.
Pull your shoulder blades towards your spine.
Stretch your head upwards without tilting backwards.

Practice the above until correct posture becomes second nature to you. Correct breathing is developing your awareness of good posture at all times.

Stephen Lau
Copyright© 2018 by Stephen Lau

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