Updated: Dec 23, 2020
Breathing is easy, right? It happens naturally and automatically.
But to some people, "just breathe" may sound easier than it is.
If you are anxious, if you have a cold or a respiratory disease or feel short of breath, breathing can be challenging.
Some people start taking big breaths to try and get more oxygen in and to get rid of the tight feeling in their chest and body.
Others start breathing faster.
Taking big breaths or breathing faster, though, is counterproductive.
When you take big breaths, you breathe out too much carbon dioxide. This causes blood vessels to constrict and reduces blood flow. As a consequence you get less oxygen!
When you breathe fast, you activate the sympathetic nervous system that makes your body go into fight or flight mode. This will make you (more) anxious!
What you should be doing is LSD!
No, not the drug...
You should practice Long, Slow, Diaphragmatic breathing.
But it is hard to slow down your breath when you are feeling breathless.
To get your breathing under control and train this LSD breathing, do the following:
Place your hands on your lower ribs.
Breathe in and out through the nose, into your belly. As you breathe in, you feel your ribs expand and coming out to the sides. As you breathe out, you feel your ribs contract and coming in again.
While continuing this diaphragmatic breathing, you practice short breath holds.
First, take an easy, normal, breath in and out through the nose.
Then stop breathing for 3, 4 or 5 slow counts.
Then take an easy breath in and out.
Again, take an easy breath in and out through the nose, and stop breathing for 3, 4 or 5 slow counts.
Do this three more times.
Don't hold the breath for too long or you might lose control of your breathing.
Practicing this long, slow and diaphragmatic breathing, makes your breaths more efficient. The bloodflow and delivery of oxygen improves and feelings of anxiousness and short windedness will dissipate.
In my Hatha Yoga classes, we practice breathing exercises, like Kapala Bhati and Anulom Vilom.
During class, all movements and asanas (poses) are linked with the breath. Breathing calmly and evenly, while holding an asana comfortably and steadily, promotes mental and physical health.
You will feel calmer in daily life and it will become easier for you to control and come back to your breath whenever you feel out of breath or anxious.