THE BLOG
03/18/2013 04:19 pm ET | Updated May 18, 2013

The Basics of Good Breathing

There are a few key factors that determine one's ability to successfully practice deep breathing. A few key pointers can give people the awareness they need so that they may utilize the gift of breath to restore and enhance the body's balance, freedom and health.

We all need to practice -- and should be practicing -- deep breathing. Just as we all brush our teeth once or twice a day, we should be taking a few conscious breaths each day. There is plenty of medical evidence to show for the importance of breathing well and its relationship to our health. In fact, it has been documented that a breathing rate of six breaths per minute has a positive effect on the vital systems of the body. So why are we not taking these few minutes every day? I believe that the main reason is that few people know how to go about working on their breathing. Without some guidance, it is impossible to become involved in the process. The good news is that it's rather magical; once you begin to check in with the breath, the mind becomes curious, the journey begins, and the rewards are plentiful. Our breath is among our most powerful and natural healing tools.

Here is a basic step-by-step guide to begin your breathing regimen.

  1. Relax your back and be comfortable in your seat.
  2. Allow your tongue and your jaw to be soft.
  3. As you continue to relax, notice where and how your body is responding to the inhalations and the exhalations.
  4. Continue to relax as you simply pay attention to your breathing.
  5. With each exhalation notice a subtle compression.
  6. With each inhalation sense the gentle expansion of your body as it bellows open to accommodate the incoming air.
  7. Stay tuned into your breathing for a few minutes.

Note: Try and breathe only through your nose, but if you are unable to be completely relaxed try breathing out of the mouth and in through the nose instead.

Checking in with your breath for a few minutes each day will cause you to become more aware of any habitual tension. Just as a person with poor posture becomes aware as the muscles of good posture take over, so too will you begin to catch yourself in states of poor or shallow breathing as your body becomes accustomed to the free, natural movement of the breath. A simple tuning in each day is the first step towards breathing well always, even when moving through your most hectic day.

Carla Melucci Ardito helps people to understand the path of the breath through the body and how their skeletal alignment plays a part in unencumbered respiration. She teaches a breathing workshop at The Integral Yoga Institute in New York City and has created the application Breathing Lessons for the iPhone, iPad and iPod to guide people through the basic principles that comprise healthy breathing patterns.

Carla can be followed on Twitter @BreathGuru.

For more by Carla Ardito, click here.

For more on wellness, click here.