Practicing proper breathing techniques are fundamental to athletes, singers, and avid exercisers.

These practices not only help you reach peak performance, but are also helpful in reducing stress, anxiety and shortness of breath.

Health expert Karen Owoc, shows how to breathe for better health and less stress.

Karen says using breathing exercises are best used to control stress and anxiety.

Pursed Lip Breathing

One of the best remedies for shortness of breath as it quickly slows your breathing pace. Each breath is more effective at taking in oxygen.

Pursed lip breathing:

• Improves ventilation

• Releases trapped air in the lungs

• Keeps the airways open longer and decreases the work of breathing

• Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate

• Relieves shortness of breath

• Causes general relaxation

The Pursed Lip Breathing Technique

Practice 4-5 times a day to perfect the breathing pattern to where it feels natural.

1. Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.

2. Inhale for two counts (mouth closed). Do NOT take a deep breath. Just take a normal breath.

3. Pucker or “purse” your lips — as if you’re going to whistle, gently flicker the flame of a candle, or drink through a straw.

4. Exhale slowly and gently through pursed lips for 4 counts.

Belly Breathing (a.k.a. Diaphragmatic, Abdominal or Deep Breathing)

Good breathing starts with a strong diaphragm (the dome-shaped muscle below your lungs and control breathing). Strong abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm which makes for a more powerful exhalation.

Basically, diaphragmatic breathing involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. (NO MOUTH BREATHING.)

Belly breathing is the basis for almost all meditation or relaxation techniques:

• Strengthens the diaphragm

• Improves core muscle stability

• Slows breathing rate which decreases the work of breathing

• Uses less effort and energy to breathe

• Helps you relax

• Lowers heart rate

• Lowers blood pressure

The Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique

Practice 3-4 times per day for 5-10 minutes (gradually increasing the time).

Lying Down:

1. Lie on the floor, knees bent, and place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your abdomen (just below your rib cage).

2. Relax your shoulders.

3. Tighten your abdominal muscles. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible.

4. Inhale (mouth closed) for 2 counts and exhale through pursed lips for 4 counts very slowly while watching your belly move up as it fills with air and moves down as it expels air.

*Can be done sitting or standing (after gaining more practice).

General Breathing Tips and Reminders

• Don’t force the air out.

• Always take longer to exhale — twice the time you spend breathing in.

• Breathe slowly, gently, and stay relaxed. Breathe in and out until you are completely in control.




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