You Might Be Breathing Wrong — Here's How to Fix It

Breathing is one of the few things in life most of us can do without thinking about it. If you’re reading this, you’re probably getting enough oxygen in to keep yourself alive, but you can most likely improve your breathing technique. Yes: There is a right and a wrong way to do it. SheKnows spoke with several health and wellness experts to find out what we’re doing wrong, how we can fix it and what it can do for our health.

What we’re doing wrong

Just because we breathe involuntarily doesn’t mean that we’re doing it correctly. According to Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, a family physician, most people tend to breathe with their chest, thereby not allowing oxygen to enter the diaphragm. In turn, this leads to shallow breathing which deprives your body of oxygen, he tells SheKnows.

“It causes rapid, shallow breaths which doesn’t fully oxygenate the body and can cause hyperventilation and brings about symptoms of fatigue and dizziness,” Dr. Vinay Saranga, a psychiatrist and founder of Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, tells SheKnows. In other words, it’s not the best way to do it.

What we should do instead

If you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to proper breathing, Djordjevic shares three pointers:

  • Slow down your breath. The most common mistake people make is to breath rapidly. The average breathing rate is between 10 and 12 breaths per minute.
  • Breathe with your diaphragm, not your chest. If you’re breathing, but your ribs aren’t expanding to the side, this means that you’re probably doing it wrong. Try not to move your chest and shoulders while inhaling and focus on breathing with your diaphragm.
  • Take time to exhale. A lot of people simply don’t take the time to exhale all of the oxygen, which can lead to hyperventilation. In fact, exhaling should take even more time than inhaling. This way, you will slow down your breathing rate and increase the quality of breaths.

It’s all about the diaphragm

So the two major takeaways there are to slow down and breathe with you diaphragm. Great, but aside from a method of birth control frequently referenced on ‘90s sitcoms, what’s a diaphragm?

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