Have you ever heard anyone say just breathe and relax? I'm sure you have I know I have heard it thousands of times, probably even said it hundreds of times myself. So why is this such a popular saying? As it turns out because it is some really sound advice if you know how to breathe correctly it will do just that for you. You will relax, if you just take the time to breathe. So first before we get into how to breathe correctly let's talk about breathing in general, what happens when we breathe? We inhale air through our nose or mouth, it travels down our windpipe to our lungs, the lungs take the oxygen and moves that into our blood stream, the blood goes to our heart and then the heart moves it to the rest of our body. Then the carbon dioxide is transferred to our blood and moved back to the lungs so we can exhale it when we breath out. Ok so with all of that out of the way and with that very basic understanding of how breathing works lets get into how most of us breathe. Most of us breathe without really giving it any thought. Our bodies just do it all day everyday with us not paying any attention to how or even that we are breathing for that matter, but let us get really stressed or scared and we get out of breath, we start taking really shallow breaths and all most hyperventilate. When we get really scared we go into a fight or flight mode and the breathing changes to this shallow type to prepare us for fighting or running. That is something natural that your body should do, the problem is when our bodies stay in that mode it can lead us to having all kinds of issues. When we are stressed or have anxiety we don't breathe correctly, our diaphragm flattens so that we breathe shallow. We can over come this but we have to make an effort to do so. We have to realize that we are not breathing properly and make the effort to fix it. That's where learning to breathe correctly comes into play. If you just search breathing, you will get hundreds of pages of results telling you all these ways to breathe and all claiming that this is the best way and that if you do it this way it will help you so much. I am not here to tell you which way is best for you, I am here to tell you what I have used for over 20 years and what I have taught many people to use and that it has worked and served me well over that time. It's called diaphragmatic breathing, also know as belly breathing or abdominal breathing. We use this all the time in martial arts. It helps us to focus our minds, calm our bodies and get us ready for training or sparring. It is the foundation that some of our kata are founded on. You must be thinking that is a really hard technique that will take some time to learn. In reality it's not, what takes practice is being able to do it without having to put a lot of thought into it. One of the easiest ways I have found to teach people to do this is to lay down flat, put one hand on your chest the other hand goes on your stomach. Take a breath and you will probably feel your chest move, with diaphragmatic breathing you want to breathe from your stomach. So as you inhale focus on moving your stomach up as you breathe in, like you're pushing your stomach up and your chest stays still. Then as you exhale your stomach should go down. This will feel very strange at first, as you practice this more and more you will find that your body will respond and it will become more and more natural. This type of breathing has been shown to lower blood pressure and lower heart rate. It is a great tool to have when you feel like life is becoming too much. You can just take a step back and breathe. Just taking a few deep belly breaths can help you relax and give you more perspective on the task that is at hand. It can even help you find new ways to achieve old goals. As we continue to give you tools to help you deal with the world we live in, you will find that you can add this to them and they can work together to help you live your best life.
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