Controlled breathing: what it is and how to use it

Breathing is essential for any living organism. Thanks to it, we get oxygen, which is a key element in producing the energy we need to cope with everyday life.

Without good breathing, we prevent the proper functioning of our body, this is why it is so important to train controlled breathing.

    The importance of using your lungs well

    Many of you will surely ask yourself: why do I have to learn to breathe in a “different” way? So good, we may not breathe in the most efficient way for the body, And it can trigger some symptoms such as hyperventilation, fatigue, a feeling that “air is not getting to us” or shallow breathing, anxiety, etc.

    An interesting trick to see if we breathe slowly and steadily is to contemplate how a baby breathes, or at least imagine it. When you breathe in, does your belly or chest swell? How many seconds pass between inhaling and exhaling? Do you do it slowly and relaxed or fast and crash? Is it regular or irregular breathing?

    It is curious to understand how, due to our pace of life or the demands of the environment, we “unlearn” how to breathe. One of the goals of this article is to analyze the way we breathe, to know what controlled breathing is and to acquire tips to start training it, it will only take you 10 minutes of your day. .

    What is controlled breathing?

    Controlled breathing is a technique widely used in psychotherapy which makes it possible to reduce physiological activation and therefore to cope with anxiety (it is important to note that it does not eliminate anxiety but helps to cope with it and can thus help to reduce it) is a simple application exercise that anyone can practice and incorporate into their routine.

    It consists of learning to breathe slowly: 8 or 12 breaths per minute (we generally breathe 10 to 12 times per minute at rest), not too deep and using the diaphragm instead of breathing only with the chest.

      Why learn to oxygenate yourself like that?

      Controlled breathing is characterized by its slowness and regularity, by the use of the diaphragm and by not being too deep. Let’s try to explain the scientific basis on which it is better to breathe this way.

      It is important to breathe slowly and evenly because this habit is linked to decreased vital signs (Heart rate, muscle and blood pressure). Remember the baby example: when we sleep or are about to sleep, we breathe more slowly and steadily than usual in our routine. If we are feeling more nervous or restless than normal, it is advisable to breathe more slowly.

      It is advisable to use the diaphragm, a muscle unknown to many because this way we oxygenate our body better. When we are anxious we breathe very shallowly and fill our lungs little, which means that we are not providing all the oxygen our blood needs.

      Conversely, if we breathe deep in our lungs, more oxygen reaches the blood. By doing this, the diaphragm contracts, presses on the abdomen and it rises. Controlled breathing is linked (and can stimulate) a parasympathetic response.

      It is advisable not to breathe too deeply, otherwise there will be an excessive decrease in CO2 in the lungs and we could become hyperventilated (and if misinterpreted, we could have a panic attack).

        How can I start practicing this habit?

        For starters, the most important thing is that the person finds a place where they feel comfortable and safe (lying, lying or sitting) and sets aside 10 minutes. You should gently close your eyes and place a hand on your abdomen, Place the little finger just above the navel.

        With each inhalation, the abdomen should rise, so that the hand placed on the abdomen rises. It’s about transporting air to the end of the lungs, Do not take in a large amount of air (remember that if hyperventilation cannot occur).

        Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds using the diaphragm and breathe out (expel air) through your nose or mouth for another 3 seconds, and take a short break to catch your breath. For some people it is useful to put on relaxing background music, for others it is useful to mentally and slowly repeat the word “relax”, “calm” … For the most imaginative people it is useful to imagine that the tension escapes with the ‘exhaled air. There are people who find it more useful to take a break after inhaling, that is, inhaling – pausing – exhaling. But in general, it will be as follows: inhale (3 seconds) – exhale (3 seconds) – take a short break and go back.

        We should try to breathe 8 to 12 times per minute. For people who have trouble keeping up with the seconds while practicing controlled breathing, they can register before performing the exercise indicating when to inhale and when to exhale.

        Since controlled breathing is learning like any other, it takes practice. It is advisable to perform this exercise 2-3 times a day for 10 minutes to acquire fluidity (preferably in easy and calm situations), and thus to be able to generalize to other situations where it is more difficult to relax or we tend to put – no more nervous (for example, at work, in a traffic jam, after a discussion …).

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