If you read enough books on health, mindfulness, and relaxation, you'll start to notice a pattern. Almost all of them will feature at least one exercise related to breathing.
Seeking advice on reducing stress? Friends and experts alike will tell you to take a deep breath.
Learning to meditate? The Buddhist will tell you to distance yourself from your thoughts and focus on your breathing.
Having problems in the bedroom? Relaxed breathing can give your libido a shot of adrenaline.
It's no surprise that our breathing is so intimately connected with our lives. It's one of our primary functions; one which we depend on to survive. Breathing is connected to our very core.
No matter how much advice we hear about it, though, proper breathing can be tricky. You have a rough day and it's all you can do to get enough oxygen. It's time for that big job interview and your throat tightens up like you're a 13-year-old who just hit puberty. As natural as breathing is, it can be anything but for many adults in the modern world.
Fortunately, we adults aren't alone. When we forget how to breathe, there are millions of wise gurus all around us. You don't have to pay a fortune, depart on a pilgrimage, or take an oath of celibacy to study with one of them. If you want to see a model of perfect breathing, watch a baby.
We all come into this world as master breathers. Watch a baby, and you'll see the same kind of breathing that singers, stage actors, and other performers spend years training for. A baby's torso expands like a balloon with each breath. Her belly puffs up, and her ribs swing out. It's efficient, it's effortless, and you can't help but relax when watching her.
So what happens between infancy and adulthood that makes us breathe like we're sucking through a tiny hole in a brick wall? You can probably guess who the suspects are. Stress, physical tension, resistant thinking... these transform us from master belly breathers into amateur chest gaspers.
Many breathing instructors focus primarily on describing proper breathing. This approach is valid, but also limited. It's like showing someone a video of Michael Jordan, and saying "play basketball like this."
Proper breathing isn't something that you make happen. It's something that you get out of the way of. Adults haven't adopted shallow breathing out of a lack of anatomical knowledge. Our breathing is constricted because of physical resistance.
After spending the last 15 years learning, teaching, and practicing advanced breathing techniques, I can happily report that there are methods that will radically change your breathing. I've seen them work for hundreds of students, and they've worked for me.
There's only one problem: The most advanced of these methods are taught by a handful of voice and speech professors in the graduate drama programs of top universities. This is great for the aspiring performers in these classes, but what about everyone else? Improving the resonance of your voice is only one by-product of breathing like a baby.
So I've made it my mission to communicate these advanced techniques in a way that anyone can understand and apply. I believe that this information can dramatically improve your life.
I'll be covering baby-like breathing in a series of columns here on The Huffington Post.
Have you ever paid attention to the natural perfection of a baby's breathing? Have you noticed the relationship between your breathing and your mood? I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments below.
You can also download a free sample of my new book, How to Breathe Like a Baby. It's filled with exercises that will help you to unlock your natural breathing.
For more by Will Shanklin, click here.
For more on wellness, click here.
We’re basically your best friend… with better taste. Learn more