How to Breathe Correctly

Unless the afterlife has wifi, I can presume that you’re alive and reasonably well if you’re reading this post, so I’m going to assume you’ve been successfully breathing for some time. You get enough oxygen into your blood to support your physiological requirements and power your limbs, organs, and muscles. You know how to inhale, and exhaling is a breeze. You even know how to breathe through your nostrils like a champ. In other words, you can breathe well enough to live. What could you possibly be missing?

There’s a pretty good chance you aren’t breathing correctly. At rest, when sleeping, while running – you can probably breathe different and breathe better. Okay, you’re willing to accept that, as a whole, we’ve missed the mark on a host of supposedly mundane activities – eating, exercising, sitting, sleeping, standing, washing, heck, even pooping – but breathing? You’ve gone too far this time, Sisson. You’re firmly in the deep end. I breathe just fine.

Hear me out, and before you read any further, I’m going to have you take a deeeeep breath, so I can show you what you’re doing wrong. Don’t skip ahead; no cheating.

Put your right hand on your chest and your left hand on your abdomen. Take a big breath by inhaling through your nose or your mouth (whichever is most natural for you), slowly. Really fill your lungs, and note which hand rises more. Did your right hand move first and most, with your left hand lagging behind – if it moved at all? Did your shoulders go up? Did your traps rise like you were shrugging a couple dumbbells? Congratulations, you are a chest breather.

Now, procure an infant, preferably one with an exposed, protruding belly. Gender matters not. Got one? Great. Lay your infant on its back and watch how the kid breathes. Does his chest rise and rib cage expand? Maybe a little, but the bulk of the action is happening in the belly button region, right? That kid is “belly breathing.” In other words, he is using his diaphragm, a sheet of muscle located between the thoracic and abdominal cavities that (if you do it right) draws oxygen into the lungs upon activation. When it contracts, it moves down into the abdominal cavity, pushing the belly out, increasing the capacity of the lungs while lowering the air pressure, thus spurring the influx of oxygen. The external intercostals, muscles located between the ribs (flex your core with a finger on your ribs and you’ll feel the intercostals fill the gaps), also assist with respiration, but the diaphragm is the prime mover.

If your right hand rose first and most prominently in the previous exercise, you did not effectively utilize your diaphragm. Like the office worker with inactive glutes from too much sitting, you have an inactive diaphragm. Your synergist muscles – the helper muscles that assist the prime mover – are forced to take over. Without the diaphragm contracting and opening up the lower half of the lungs, less space is available for incoming air. Not only that, but according to some, the lower half of the lungs is also by far the most efficient at delivering oxygen; the bottom 13% of the lungs brings in 60 mL O2 per minute, while the top 7% only brings in 4 mL per minute. Chest breathing to the exclusion of diaphragmatic breathing (and that bottom 13%), then, is highly inefficient because it squanders added capacity and more effective tissue.

To really accentuate the inefficiency and help you understand how exclusively chest breathing limits your oxygen, let’s try a couple quick exercises. Stand tall and shrug your shoulders up toward your ears. Hold that position and take a deep breath. Or, rather, try to take a deep breath. You can’t do it. You can take in some air, but not a lot, and what you can take in sounds labored. There’s a big whooshing sound that just doesn’t feel right. It feels… weak.

Next, hunch over at the thoracic spine. Imagine you’re typing away at the computer (shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how you’re probably reading this post on a computer) and let your chest cave in, your shoulder blades spread out, and your head droop forward. In other words, give yourself the type of terrible posture that millions of us sport each day. Hold that position and try to take a deep breath. It’s belabored, right?

Finally, suck in your gut. Flex those abs and flatten that belly. Inhale, and note how thin and ineffectual your breathing sounds and feels. Your diaphragm is pinned against your contracted abdominal muscles. It can’t go anywhere. It can’t do anything, and your breathing suffers for it.

These seemingly exaggerated scenarios actually are not. Realize that a good portion of people go about their day with tight traps, shrugged shoulders, rounded backs, and caved-in chests, constantly sucking in their stomachs as they try to breathe. You see them every day. You work with them. You might even do it yourself without realizing. It’s anything but rare. It’s normal! Alan Watts writes of this “normal” breathing as “fitful and anxious,” with residual air “always being held and not fully released.” Folks hold onto their air and simply pile more on top with the next breath, rather than breathe completely in and completely out each time. They get new air mixed in with the old stuff, enough to function but not enough to thrive. You’ll notice that the only time they truly expel everything from the lungs is when some stressful event elicits a massively audible sigh. That sigh clears everything out and brings a fresh supply of air back in, thus giving a boost of oxygen to the blood and helping us deal with the stress. In other words, most of us can’t even figure out how to breathe deeply in and out on our own to promote relaxation. We rely on our subconscious to do it for us.

I say, why wait for our subconscious to kick in? Why not practice proper breathing at all times and reap the benefits without having to wait till stress accumulates and does it for us? Why not do some diaphragmatic, or belly breathing?

You can do this lying down or standing up. To start with, I prefer lying down because it lets you really relax and focus on the movement of the diaphragm. Place your hands on your belly, or even lay a book with reasonable heft on your belly (this will give you something to brace against). Now, take a deep breath and let your belly expand as your diaphragm asserts itself. Your chest and shoulders may rise and your ribs may expand, but this is totally normal and expected as long as the belly moves first. Next, slowly exhale while tightening your core and contracting your abs. As the abdominal muscles contract, they’ll push the diaphragm back up. This will reduce the volume of the thoracic cavity, increase the air pressure, and expel the air contained therein. Continue to take deep diaphragmatic breaths for a couple minutes. Inhale three seconds, exhale six to ten seconds. Big, deep, slow, relaxing breaths.

Do you feel the difference? The relaxation? You might even fall asleep if you’re not careful. While there appear to be objective benefits to making this your default setting, like increased oxygen supply (great for general living and athletic performance), and I’ve already gone over how deep breathing can enhance a healthy lifestyle, the real allure of breathing with your diaphragm is simply using your respiratory as it was meant to be used. The benefits we get from breathing this way – like a reduction in hypertension – stem from eliminating the short, rapid, vapid breaths of chest breathing. We’re not getting “more” or “extra” oxygen; we’re just getting the amount of oxygen that our body “expects.” Nay, that it deserves.

How did belly breathing work for you? Were you a chest breather, or are you way ahead of the curve to begin with? Practice it enough, and eventually it’ll become second nature. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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165 thoughts on “How to Breathe Correctly”

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  1. As a one time student of a fabulous choir director I,thankfully, learned this years ago, and am still doing it the right way today.

    1. Ditto! We had a great All-County chorus teacher once that taught us all kinds of breathing exercises that really stuck with me too.

    2. Same here! As a choir and marching band participant I have been breathing correctly for years. Add Ballet from ages 5-10 and a lot of the posture stuff is second (or first?) nature too.

      Moral of the story? Sign your kids (or yourself) for music and ballet lessons!

      <3 the arts!

      1. Yup – if you’re a singer or an instrumentalist that uses air to make the sound, you’ve pretty much got this covered. Nice to know I’m ahead of the curve on SOMETHING! 🙂

        1. Same here – but I also played the flute for 8 years in addition to choir. Recently I went in and had some evaluations done for my asthma. The nurse just took a look at me after the tests and goes: “You were a band/choir student, weren’t you?”

          Those breathing exercises stick wtih you!

    3. For me it was marching band. “Don’t let me see those shoulders moving!” I think mostly they didn’t want our plumes bobbing around, and honestly it helped keep my lips firmly on my instrument if my shoulders weren’t moving up and down

  2. As a former professional flutist, I’ve done a lot of work over the years with students just teaching them to breathe. While researching ways to overcome performance anxiety, I read an interesting article that defined anxiety as “a perceived inability to breathe.” Often when we’re stressed or anxious, we unconsciously breathe shallowly or even hold our breath. Now, whenever I’m stressed, I try to “check in” with my body to see if I’m breathing correctly, and I find that breathing deeply is a great way to release stress.

  3. I learned about belly breathing years ago, but just recently an opera friend was talking about “breathing into her back”. Firm up your abs, pull your shoulders down and breathe into your lower back letting your ribs expand. You get way more air this way than pooching your belly out.

    1. Good point, ottercat. My sister in law is an opera singer grad student, and gave me some voice lessons to get more experience teaching male voice one on one.

      The expanding rib cage factor was fascinating. She showed me how she does it, but I haven’t quite got it down effortlessly.

    2. I’m a some-time opera singer and know what you’re talking about. You can basically use the exercise Mark described to monitor this – check the movement of the book on your belly and also monitor what your back is doing: you should feel it spreading and more of it will come into contact with the floor.

      Another way to do this is squatting (here we go again) a little against a wall (not 90 degrees, but gently, enough so your back is flat against the wall). Try the same monitored breathing. If you want to vocalise with it, let your breath hissssssssss consistently as it expires: this will certainly tell you where your diaphragm is 🙂 Then you can try shorter hisses. I do this kind of thing when I want to wake my diaphragm up if I haven’t sung in a while.

    3. THANK YOU for this. I’ve been working on breathing better, but have been finding it extremely tricky to do. I think it’s been because I’ve been pooching my belly out instead of letting the air come in via my entire trunk.

      Now I feel lightheaded and YEARS younger. My wife commented the other day that my voice is deeper as well, and I feel an inexplicable urge to sing. I’m smiling more as well.

      As someone who, at some point, started chest breathing, and then started having issues with testosterone, sleeping, stress, and anxiety, I’m beginning to wonder if this is all related, and if my breathing was the core start of it.

  4. If we were constantly taking in less oxygen than our bodies need, we’d die within a few minutes. How long could you survive with your head in a plastic bag? Even a bag with a little hole in it? Not long at all.

    Indeed there are a whole host of physiological control mechanisms to make sure that this happens, because our oxygen uptake MUST balance our oxygen need.

    1. Less than needed is not none. You can survive off very little. By enhancing your oxygen intake you open the possibility of thriving

  5. Terrific Post, Mark! As an educational psychologist, not only do I teach belly breathing to students who deal with anxiety, but to staff as part of a crisis intervention training. There is a fair amount of research that supports teaching patience who experience panic attacks to belly-breathe, those with moderate symptoms can alleviate their panic disorder symptoms by a daily practice of belly breathing, AND when triggers are about to happen. Great for getting your heart rate down during a heated discussion too– Dr. Gottman (marriage researcher) suggests that when our resting heart rate goes above 100 bpm, we are not working out of our frontal cortex where problem-solving happens!

    Just a few thoughts on the matter… as always, Mark- SPOT ON!

    1. A little more information on the heart-beat/frontal cortex connection would be interesting. Got more?

    1. That is a very good read.

      I highly recommend it to everyone interested in improving their breathing technique.

      Have fun

  6. I feel quite lightheaded when breathing like this………..
    Is this to be expected?

    1. Some people feel lightheaded because their bodies aren’t used to having so much oxygen to work with, so it’s sort of a rush. You’ll find you get more adapted to it as the belly breathing becomes more natural.

      1. After you breathe out, allow yourself to be still, no breathing, until your body demands that you breathe in. You should find you are content to be without breath for several seconds. That should sort it out. Ever watch your partner/child/cat/dog sleeping, worrying that they’re dead? That is at the end of the breathing out – complete rest.

    2. You are feeling lightheaded since you are hyperventilating. This is when you override your body’s natural regulation that balances oxygen demand with how deeply you breathe.

      Doing this for long periods of time isn’t wise and can cause a range of unpleasant effects.

  7. Another benefit to breathing this way is that it alleviates “side stitches” or cramps you may have had while working out.

  8. This is huge. I have had patients with chronic stubborn thoracic spine pain that has been improved by re-educating them on how to breathe. Great post, Mark.

  9. I picked up belly breathing while taking a few Tai Chi classes. Despite all of the “woo-woo” in the internal martial arts, they have a lot of good things to teach about breathing.

    1. This feels very similar to what you get going with Ujai (sp??) breath – the slight constriction of the throat (Darth Vader breathing) that somehow forces you to belly breathe.

      In the 3-part yogic breath, although you’re breathing into your ribcage and upper chest (after your belly), your shoulders are still still, and, of course, you’re aiming for good posture. It’s still a slow, deep breathing.

      I credit yoga with the fact that when I took Mark’s deep breath test above, I was breathing into my belly.

  10. I do think it is important to note the benefits of incorporating some nose breathing into both proper breathing and everyday activities such as exercsise. Breathing through your nose will stimulate your brain and set off physiological reactions that mouth breathing along cannot. Just do it a test run yourself. Close your eyes and properly breathe one time through just your mouth, then do it again just through your nose. Feel the difference?!

    Great article Mark, thank you!

    1. Forgot to mention that I actually use both nose and mouth breath, sometimes in the same breath, finishing off my breath through my nose. I find this most beneficial when exercising, especially with moderate to intense exercise. With every day activities, yoga, meditation and sleeping, nose breathing seems to be best.

    2. If I am not mistaking, nose breathing creates a type of vortex that also forces the air deeper into the lungs. Something mouth breathing doesn’t do.

      1. The mouth and nose both lead to the same narrow tube, so this doesn’t sound very likely.

        1. When you breathe in through the nose your body adds nitric oxide to the mix, this doesn’t happen when you breathe in through the mouth. the buteyko method goes into details why this is important.

  11. A needed post, Mark 🙂 There’s nothing like a deep breath while riding out the stressful moments of the day.

    I don’t think EVERY breath is naturally meant to be a belly breath, though. Thoughts?

    1. I don’t think belly breaths have to necessarily be deep breaths. I’ve never thought much about it, but when I did Mark’s “test” up above, only my belly hand moved, and I’ve been paying attention to how I breathe as I sit here reading the comments. I’m not taking abnormally deep breaths, but they’re all “belly.”

    2. Amanda, I think that observation of children and animals tell us that belly-breathing is the norm, that we have corrupted with our rigid societal norms about the shape we should be. Men must have flat abs, women must not have any belly at all (heaven forbid, a sin!), we must all stand up like ramrods etcetera. I was taught to stand up straight, hold my stomach in and have ‘good posture’. Look at ‘primitive ‘tribes (modern-day groks) in the Amazon and Africa. They are lean and superbly well-muscled, but they never hold their bellies in.

      1. I think this is very interesting. Is it possible to breath well with flat hard abs? (not that I have that problem)

        This was the most interesting post for me, since I’m a chest breather, have no choir experience, and get panic attacks when I get sick which are always related to not being able to control my breath.

  12. Whoop whoop! I started abdominal breathing last summer when I saw it mentioned somewhere! I was right! Whoop! Lol

  13. extended exhalation also turns off the sympathetic nervous system and activates the parasympathetic. that’s why many sects of zen (if not all) teach with an emphasis on extended exhalation. nirvana is definitely found at the end of an extended exhale. yet another thing our ancestors knew without modern science…science is still cool too.

  14. This reminds me of Michael Stember, a former olympian sprinter, at Primal Con! I vividly remember him explaining this exact same stuff to us while teaching us how to properly sprint.

    He claimed he could inhale for a few seconds and exhale for up to 2 minutes or more. I certainly believe him!

    Thanks Mark for blogging about this. It has refreshed my memory and I will engage in this exercise on a daily basis starting right… NOW!

    I am currently a chest breather but am on my way to becoming a belly breather.

    Grok on!

  15. Hmmm…I love this site and i love mark, but i gotta call b.s. on this one! Sure in the rare moments when you consciously take a deep breath you can decide how to go about it (meditation, playing a wind instrument, etc.) but 99.99..% of the breaths we take are controlled automatically and subconsciously. And for good reason! but you can’t consciously alter a process that occurs subconsciously, by definition!

    1. It’s like sitting up straight and keeping your shoulders back, it feels awkward and forced at first, but it will become automatic with practice.

    2. You can certainly control something like breathing and be conscious of it most of the time. If you’ve ever been to therapy, you will realize that you can even get in touch with most of your subconscious mind. Also, if you practice conscious proper breathing for a while, you will begin to subconsciously breathe properly. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!

      1. Posture, subconscious mind, yes- the neural networks exist to do this. But not breathing (only voluntary breathing can be modified through practice). It’s neuro-anatomically impossible to change your automatic breathing by changing how you voluntarily breath – the two just aren’t connected 🙁 Though it would be cool if we really could!

        1. Yes, it might help people avoid altitude sickness, which is the only time when your body’s normal breathing/oxygen demand system breaks down.

          Other than that rare case, altering how much you breathe isn’t wise for more than short periods and anyway isn’t possible for very long.

        2. Then how did I do it? Before I started singing, I was a chest breather. I made myself breathe from the stomach whenever I remembered to so that I could easily do it without having to think too much about it while singing. It became so that with everyday breathing I did not have to think to breathe starting with the belly. A lot of it has to do with posture. When you are hunched over all day, people tend to chest breathe so that that becomes their normal breathing pattern. If you have better posture, it is the belly that is the norm. Think of children, most start of with wonderful posture and breathe from the belly – so where does chest breathing come from? It most definitely is something that can be changed over time.

    3. You are right in that its something we do subconsciously. That does not mean you are automatically doing it correctly.

      Do you believe you have good posture? I sit the same way every time subconsciously. However after attending Primal Con I am well aware that my posture for both walking and sitting is way off.

      I will be practicing deep breathing daily. In 30 days or so I will be subconsciously breathing CORRECTLY.

    4. I suppose you don’t know anything about bad habits and how to correct them.

  16. Thankfully, singing in the choir as a boy taught me to always breath diaphragmatically. It’s weird when you first begin breathing properly, because your voice becomes a lot louder/ more powerful.

  17. I’m with Jeremy on this one – as a choir girl growing up and now a musical theater actress, this has been my breathing style from a young age.

    Recently, my fantastic voice teacher ( introduced me to a more natural breathing style that it similar to belly breathing, but slightly different. Instead of focusing on forcing air down to expand your belly, allow the air to enter and fill your lower chest cavity in a natural way. It should result in a slight expansion of your lowest ribs. If you have a belt around your true waist, you should feel the natural expansion laterally instead of forward into your belly. For singers, this results in a more supported sound and less constriction of the vocal cords from trying to force air in.

  18. LOL You read Cracked articles too. XD Yay. I loved the article this came from. My mom used to yell at me for “breathing wrong” because I always breathed more with my abdominal muscles than with my chest. XD It just has always felt more right to me. :3

    1. lol, I came to post the same thing. My uncle, who was also my band/chorus teacher, taught me how to breath with my diaphragm instead of my chest.

  19. I learned about proper breathing 9 years ago when I took Tai Chi lessons. I felt much better when belly breathing and now I do it unconsciously all of the time. In fact I have a harder time breathing into my chest. It IS possible to change how you breath. You just have to focus on it for a while. Since it is the truly natural way to breath, you are really just reminding your body how to do it properly.

  20. Excellent article! Exactly the same breathing method I teach in my Tai Chi classes! We just talked about this today – no matter how hard I try, I cannot go back to chest breathing. I’ll have to point my students to this article. It’s nice to have a good reminder on how to do the basics in our life!

    1. Yawning is one of your body’s automatic ways of getting more oxygen. Due to mechanisms such as this, “under-breathing” just isn’t possible.

      (Unless you are living at an altitude your body isn’t used to – then you can get altitude sickness)

  21. Great article. Cooincidentally, I restarted my morning ritual which includes deep abdominal breathing. I take 10 secs to inhale, ten to exhale and then hold at the bottom at ten, before restarting the cycle. This I do for ten mins.

    Darren Anthony.

  22. Belly breather here! My Irish dance teacher’s nagging to “breathe into our ribs” so our chests don’t heave up and down and interrupt our line and posture has paid off 🙂

    1. My first thought was: that’s just the BUILDING. The church is really the body. I agree that the “bodies” are having less and less impact. But, that made me think of the early church, meeting in homes, where there was no building. I think “our body” would have to START OVER to get another building…and that STARTING OVER would take us back to the basics…sharing the GOSPEL with our community.You really hit a thought provoker here!!! Thanks!!!

    2. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  23. I wish there’d be a blog about nose/mouth breathing.
    There is a gas released by the body inside the nose which is important for something, I forgot what….but mouth breathers lack this important gas.

    Dear Mark,

    some info on the difference between mouth vs. nose breathing, pleeeeease.
    Very humbly begging 🙂

    1. Not sure what gas in the nose you are referring to, but for really good info on nose vs mouth breathing, check out the butyko breathing method.

      1. I second the comment about Buyteko breathing. My son learned how to control his asthma with this technique. The “gas in the nose” you refer to is simply carbon dioxide. It’s CO2 that stimulates us to breathe, not O2. The constriction of airways that asthmatics suffer from is their bodies trying to hang onto CO2 (necessary to keep the pH of blood in the right range, for one thing). Mouth breathing blows off too much CO2 too fast. Hope I haven’t mangled this explanation too much. This says “for kids” but I found it to be an excellent explanation.

    2. From “The Body Odd: ‘Mouth-breathing’ gross, harmful to your health:’

      What’s more, when you take in oxygen through your nose, it passes over the mucous membrane and into the sinuses, which produces nitric oxide, which your body needs for all the smooth muscles, like your heart and your blood vessels. So when you’re not breathing through your nose, your blood actually isn’t getting all the oxygen it needs to function properly.

    3. Yes, it is nitric oxide. Even hospitals have noted that nasal prongs for oxygen provide better results than face masks, because the body then provides the nitric oxide

      (nb not nitrous oxide which is laughing gas – that’s different)

  24. I had never known before that I was a natural belly breather. For some reason, I always had that idea that men are belly breathers and women are chest breathers. Don’t ask me why:)
    Now that I did Mark’s test, I’m happy to know that was naturally breathing right.
    Thanks, Mark!

  25. Such great information, especially for any asthmatics! I learned this a year or so ago & realized a lot of the chronic tension I carried in my upper back and neck was from improper breathing.

  26. Related to breathing, I have always had a very hard time breathing through my nose. I keep hearing from everyone how breathing through your nose is way better (and/or breathing through your mouth is bad). But for whatever reason (nasal/sinus deformity, allergies, I dunno) I cannot get enough air in fast enough through my nose. It *sounds* bad when I try to breathe that way. When running, I try to do the “in through the nose, out through the mouth thing” but can only last 1/4-1/2 lap before I get dizzy and need to switch to mouth breathing.

    This has never really seemed like a huge deal to me. It seemed to me that as long as I’m breathing at all, things are good. But it *really* concerns my wife. As far as I can tell there’s really nothing you can do aside from surgery, and I really don’t have any desire to have elective surgery for this.

    Does anyone here have any insight? Is this a problem? Have any of you worked through this non-surgically?

    1. Yes, I currently have a palatal expansion going on both my upper and my lower jaw.
      The first 2 months my sinus drained like MAD. I’ve had a stuffy nose my entire life, always on nasal sprays to reduce swelling so I could get some air in over night. When I switched to primal and ditched grains and pasteurized milk a lot of this swelling and mucous build up went away but my nose was still dry. This expansion triggered something within the sinus to release all this dried up mucous and my nose is now moist and easy to keep clean.
      As far as expansion goes, it’s slow…I have the longest roots ever which makes progress slower than normal. From pre-molar to premolar I’ve gained about 3 mm of expansion so far.

      I can tell my nasal bones are on a slow move because it hurts to have sun glasses on the nose bridge. I also can’t wear a baseball cap because of the slight pressure it causes on the head. It’s like everything is moving outward.
      Orthodontist said this takes about 2-3 years to get a 10 mm expansion to make a difference in the nose…I sure hope my bone is willing to stretch that far =P

      There are little rubber rings you can buy for the nose to keep the nostrils open further up in the nose. I bought 2 of those for $10,-. The best 10 bucks I’ve ever spent, no more nasalspray for the night.

      Type in Nasal Dilator in Google, bunch of different ones show up. Good Luck!

  27. Thank you so much for addressing this important subject.

    As a voice teacher(and fellow Grok) that has been teaching professionals and novice singers for over 17 years I’d like to debunk a few myths about breathing.

    1. “Belly Breathing” is a misnomer – the diaphragm is located directly below the lungs, no where near the intestines and stomach. The diaphragm drops down upon inhalation and draws air into the lungs, moves upwards to force air out of lungs upon exhalation. Many muscles are involved in this function – inner and outer-costals, back muscles, solar plexus, abdominal wall, even the pelvic floor.

    2.”Good Posture” has nothing to do with “standing straight” or erect. Posture is all about supporting the body so it functions with the least amount of work.

    The middle of our body is the pelvic bone and lumbar region of the spine-the thickest bones in our body – by design, we are built to support the majority of our body weight over those bones. I’d rather see a slight “slouch” in a student’s posture than a lifted clavicle…throws the body off balance.

    3.Inhalation should be silent. Any sound upon inhalation means there is tension in the larynx (voice box)

    I hate to sound like a know it all, but I find that there are many dance teachers, yoga teachers and voice teachers that have no understanding of the anatomy of our bodies and how they function. If you would like to learn more about how breathing and the rest of our body participates in respiration, I strongly suggest the following book.

    Barbara Conable is an expert in this subject.

  28. This is silly…I understand how people can get locked in shallow, restrictive breathing, and how that might have negative effects on ones well-being. But trying to consciously control the way you breathe is the most pointless, futile, and quite possibly damaging thing you could do to yourself…You breath what, 5000 times a day? Do you have any idea what an obsessive compulsive wreck you would become if you tried to monitor and control that? Trust me, i was big on yoga a couple years back and i bought into that whole “breath with your belly” nonsense. Every waking moment of the day I started questioning whether I was breathing properly. I’d try to control the way I breathed and I felt disconnected from myself in the worst way. And there’s no evidence that diaphragmatic breathing is preferable to thoracic breathing. Your manner of breathing will fluctuate with your posture, activity, and emotional state. Trying to engage in some superstitious “proper breathing” will just suck the joy out of your life. It’s like saying there’s a proper emotion you should be feeling at all time, or a proper tone you should have to your voice, or look on your face…If you feel like your breathing is out of whack, there is probably a reason. Perhaps you have way too much tension in your muscles from too much weight lifting. Work on the reason and hopefully you can feel natural in your breathing. Just don’t pay attention to it, your breath is supposed to be subconscious.

    1. Yes, Gena and Roberto are both right. Belly breathing IS a misnomer. Correct breathing involves both the diaphragm AND the lower chest (but not the upper part of the chest) and not the neck muscles. People who think they are using only the diaphragm to breathe are really fooling themselves. I have studied and taught anatomy (with cadavers) for many.years and many of these people do not know the anatomy or physiology of respiration . I hope I don’t sound too arrogant but I really cannot stand wrong information disseminated so widely.

    2. I feel you echoed my thoughts Roberto.

      I have all my life been into Yoga. Always adjusting and questioning my breathing.
      I even tried a little Butyeko, as I am always curious, just the simple child centred, how to unblock your nose etc.

      Oh I have never been overweight, always been flexible, appear to be fit.
      So much so, that the Cardiologist was amazed, when I had a Heart Attack last year.
      I was so “untypical.”

      My advice, for what it’s worth, do not interfere with your breathing.

      I am convinced that is what brought my Attack on.

  29. Look up the “Buteyko method”…I don’t put much stock in it, because once again I think it is silly to try to tell my body how to breathe. But is interesting nonetheless, and contrary to all the “breath deeply” woo-woo out there. The theory behind it is that many ailments are caused from breathing TOO MUCH. The cure is to learn how to breathe MORE shallowly. A lot of people swear by it.

  30. “I say, why wait for our subconscious to kick in? Why not practice proper breathing at all times and reap the benefits without having to wait till stress accumulates and does it for us? Why not do some diaphragmatic, or belly breathing?”

    I looked up how many times a day we breathe…18,000 to 30,000 times, according to one source with pretty obvious math behind it. Yup, make sure you use Mark’s method all 30,000 times…Have fun with that…

  31. Mark,

    Great post. I had no idea most people practice inefficient breathing. I tried the belly breathing technique while lying down and definitely noticed a difference.


  32. In college, I took a breathing class (theater student here!) from a prof who studied under Carl Stough. In it, we learned that the exhale was the important component; the inhale was automatic. You breathe out consciously (through the mouth, silently going “la la la” so as to concentrate on the breath), and then the inhale Just happens when you’ve expelled all the air. It’s a really effective technique.

    1. Second this. Coming from a classical singing perspective, if I need to find “big air” for a long phrase, then the key to doing it is to make sure I exhale properly first. If I just take a big gulp of air (even with proper diaphragm breathing learned over years and years), I’m not going to get enough air.

  33. It may be that we allow our diaphram muscles to get weak and so the chest muscles take over and this becomes the habit. Like weak abdominals lead to poor posture habits and over use of back muscles to compensate.Conciously strengthening the proper muscles brings us back to the correct form. I retrained myself to breath this way a few years ago to deal with stress and anxiety. I’ve found another very cool benefit of this. I can create a state of relaxation that is unlike anything else I’ve experienced. I read that a good way to strengthen the diaphram is to lay on your back and put a heavy book on your belly then breath, lifting the book. Me? We have a couple of very affectionate cats that love to lay on my stomach at every opportunity!

  34. Alan Watts mentioned on MDA? I’m about to pass out from excitement

    1. Same here. I just discovered Alan Watts about a week ago and have already gone through two books and listened to about ten hours worth of lectures.

  35. I’m a belly breather!!! I think thats one of the few natural things my body has done right off the bat.

  36. I see and hear so much contrasting information about breathing and I’m still on the fence about which way is better. Recently I started a yoga class and they said that as your lungs are beneath your rib cage it should be your rib cage expanding when you breath in and not your belly, now here there is contrasting info.

    Personally I feel that so long as you have good posture then there is no better way to breath. Try blowing up a balloon with nothing hindering it, the whole balloon expands not just a bit of it. I’m imagining that your lungs are exactly the same therefore fresh air will fill the entire lung not just the top or bottom.

  37. Well, actually from what I’ve read recently “deep breathing” actually seems to be kind of conventional wisdom…
    If you Google “healthy breathing”, “optimal breathing” and things like that you will notice that many of scientific methods actually show that breathing deep doesn’t necessarily mean getting more oxygen in your blood and in fact the opposite be true. It’s especially emphasized in widely successful Buteiko method for example.

    Yes, belly breathing, yes, slow breathing. But deep breathing is at least debatable from what I’ve learned.
    I am by no means an expert but would love to learn more details about this topic.

    BTW, some systems of yoga teach almost the opposite. In Ashtanga yoga for example you should contract your abs and breathe deeply but in your chest.

    So, it seems to be more complicated…

  38. This is what i’ve always thought of as how to breath, thanks to tai chi. It’s interesting to note that Esther Gokhale seems to promote a very different style of breathing in her book?

  39. Mark, it’s real important for everyone to know that it’s the exhalation part of breathing that drives the cycle. You don’t breathe so much to bring oxygen in (we inhale 21% O2 and exhale 16%) as to blow CO2 off. The CO2 produced by cellular respiration builds up in the blood, causes a pH shift to the acidic side. The respiratory center monitors for the shift and triggers a breath cycle to get rid of the CO2 and raise the pH back to a more suitable level.

    A normal breath is about 1/3 inhalation and 2/3 exhalation. When practicing deep breathing, it’s critical to mimic this proportion. Too rapid breaths blow off too much CO2 and raise the pH. That light-headed, tingly, I-think-I-may-pass-out feeling is the effects of the pH shift . You CAN pass out, and if you do you’ll stop breathing until the CO2 builds up, your pH drops, and your respiratory center kicks off the drive again. You won’t die, (your respiratory center is pretty darn reliable), but you’ll scare the heck out of yourself unnecessarily.

    So when deep breathing, whether back (my preference) or belly, count 2 in, pause, count 6 or more out, RELAX, and enjoy.

  40. As a horn player and vocalist, I learned belly breathing before I could drive. It was interesting to note that I still belly breathe 30 years later. I’m only an occassional singer now, but the breathing style has stayed with me. I also have noticed over the years that generaly take fewer respirations per minute than most people around me. Curious, no?

  41. I’m sorry, but the idea of “belly breathing” is a joke. You actually waste time and energy trying to expand your belly. Considering this is what I do for a living, I’m going to say that back expansion works a lot better than “belly breathing.” A simple way to test this (at least what I do with kids) is what I call the pin wheel vs drawing a smiley face on glass test. Hold your hand up in front of your face and blow as if you were blowing a little pinwheel….it’s cold air that comes out and is coming from the upper portion of your lungs. Now blow on your hand as if you want to draw a smiley face on a pane of glass. It’s warm. Do it again and feel how low and back the breath feels. The key to getting a good breath is to think low (a lot of people in the operatic world even think down to their hips) and to think of pushing something from your back (a good way to check this is to try to push yourself away from the floor while on your back).

    It’s possible for me to rant on and on about this, but I’ll save everyone the torture. I will, however, agree with the face that a good exhale is important to a great inhale. And I can verify that nasal breaths/yoga fire breaths are easy ways to feel the low expansion.

    (You can also do exercises with a pvc pipe and a bread bag…if you’re looking to optimize lung expansion.)

  42. I learned this trick during a yoga class many many years ago in college. I also am an active singer, so it has helped a lot. My wife’s breathes at twice my rate.

    I can vouch for how effective it is during high intensity exercise.

  43. I am a singer/voice teacher/choir director, and it is AMAZING how many people are completely thrown off by trying to do abdominal breathing for the first time. It just goes to show how conditioned we really are to chest breathing, and how difficult it is to correct back to our natural deep breaths.

  44. Great post and reminder that there are always things to think about and work on!

    I am a chest breather, I have always known that my breathing is too shallow and when I am anxious I hold my breath without knowing it…. until I have to sigh to suck in oxygen again. My best friend is always telling me to remember to breathe.

  45. what is the proper way to breathe when exercising? I have trouble when doing crunches, I forget to breathe, well hold my breath…

  46. As an opera singer there is SO much time spent on breathe tecnique. Even though I started studying at a young age there was still so much negative learned behavior to combat. The “baby example” is a great way to prove to people how unnatural most adults’ breathing habits are – breathe deeply and enjoy the benefits!

    1. Sorry, Emily, but the baby example is NOT a good way to prove correct breathing. Babies breathe that way because their diaphragm is well developed by then and but their chest muscle development lags behind.

  47. Excellent (and timely) post, Mark.

    I’ve been stumbling over this whole “stomach-breathing” thing a lot lately, and that’s definitely justified.

    Since I began experimenting with different kinds of meditation to calm myself down and enhance my ability to focus, I’ve come to enjoy the benefits of improved breathing (that sounds stupid, but it’s true). So this is true gem!

  48. I’ve been playing trumpet since 1969 and so have been doing this forever. The deep breathing is also good to do just before going to sleep to help you relax and sleep well. And when you first wake up to get you going.

    Hatha Yoga

  49. I have read about belly breathing before and I believed that to be gospel until I got confused a couple of weeks ago when I borrowed Esther Gokhale’s 8 Steps to a Pain Free Back from the library. In some chapters, she suggests the reverse – that correct posture will result in breathing through the chest. Considering she is revered here in Grokland, did I misinterpret the book, or am I missing something here?

  50. I knew i wasnt breathing correctly.This article is very informative.. I will benefit by this..Thank you so much!

  51. I am a belly breather, and I think i have to give props to my choir teacher for that. I thought it was weird how much my belly moved during breathing.

  52. I was yarning a lot too. Does that mean I haven’t been breathing right? I could have gone to sleep. I’ll do this tonite before falling asleep.

  53. Hey Mark,

    You should give it a try this device called “Resperate”. I have bought a used one on ebay. It counts your respirations per minute and plays nice music in headphones. I’m in no way related with the manufacturer or anything, but it totally helped me get in the “zone” and be very careful about my respiration.

    I guess this could be one of the perks of living in the modern age

  54. It would seem I belly breathe automatically, it’s funny as I find a few deep breaths gets rid of hiccups pretty quick so I guess those breaths get my diaphram back under control and that’s what stops them, never thought about that

  55. I was once told in Biology Class that men lean toward rib cage breathing and women more toward belly breathing.

  56. I sing too. If you live in Australia, check out “Sing Australia”, and join up. It’s all about singing & fun. No experience necessary. If your standard answer is: “I can’t sing”, then this group is for you!

  57. Great article. It’s amazing how important breathing is and how much we don’t pay attention.

  58. Never knew about the nitrous oxide very interesting, as an osteopath I have been teaching patients to belly breath for years now with the reply from patients of why do I need to learn how to breath glad others have the same experience.

  59. I was discussing breathing with a friend a few days ago. We new there was importance in the way you breathe, but were not really sure about technique.

    And WA LA! You post on the topic.

  60. It would be interesting to get Esther Gokhale’s input on this, as she has promoted chest breathing on this blog: “…the upper part of the chest (the sternum) that is lifted – the result of a natural breathing pattern that puts a healthy stress on the ribcage with every inhalation” (April 6th, 2011, and at her site:

    1. I would be interested to see her input on this as well, since I believe her daughter did a presentation at PrimalCon, and there has been an article on MDA here about her posture techniques, so I’m guessing Mark is familiar with her techniques. From what I’ve read by her, chest breathing is the best way to breathe,(unless you are singing/running etc need a really deep breath) as it spares your lower organs from being compressed and “massages” and stretches the ribcage and spine. I would definetly be interested in hearing more on this topic! =)

  61. Chest breathing is, of course, not healthy or relaxing. But belly breath can be just as unbalanced. As a yoga teacher, I work with my students to develop complete breath – first into the top of the lungs and then, as the diaphragm contracts and the belly expands, into the lower part of the lungs. There are dozens of yoga techniques to make the breath longer and smoother. The purpose of these is not only to provide more oxygen and energy to the body, but also to make the mind calmer and more focused. All good stuff!

  62. You can’t compare a baby laying on his back to yourself in a standing position. The belly expands while laying down because the ribs are restricted and not able to expand. Look, when your diaphragm is fully engaged it doesn’t “drop” below the bottom of your sternum. It actually only moves a few inches. The outward expansion of the rib cage is where you get the most air. Remember : your lugs nor your diaphragm drop below your sternum.

  63. I know you are not a big fan of Yoga..but the breathing techniques of the Prana practice are very helpful in breathing correctly and controlling your breath as well. Becoming a breathing machine is important to the asana practice. Your article comes very close to this.

  64. Not sure why there are posts that are negative about chest breathing. I am a rebirther and in rebirthing we breathe fully into the chest through what is called conscious breathing. Not only have I felt physically better, I am also more balanced emotionally and mentally as a result! My clients have reported the same results, with all the tangible positive life changes too. At the same time I do believe that ALL conscious breathing is good, and there is no ONE way.

  65. Haha, I was a belly breather. Practiced belly breathing, read it in David Deida’s book ‘Way of the Superior Man’. This article helped clarify things even more. Thanks for sharing, Mark. I focus on my breathing on various random times a day as it is one of our bodies biggest needs, plus practice conscious breathing in meditation frequently.

  66. Good article. I too learned this years ago, when I began training in a kung fu class….so much emphasis is placed upon breathing this way to maximize your chi via oxygen intake and increased blood flow. An exercise we were taught was a 16-second breath. 4 seconds to inhale, hold for 4, exhale 4, hold for 4, that’s one rep. Do that for a minute or two, and that light-headed feeling you get afterwards comes from getting increased oxygen from breathing correctly, but also teaches your body to utilize every bit of oxygen you bring in with each breath.

  67. I learned about breathing with your diaphram from Mr. Pete Egoscue’s books. Everyone needs to read his books, they raise the awareness of yourself physically.

  68. (Not medical advice, just a personal relection!) My Internet literature search on drug-free asthma methods has now led me to the Powerbreathe device, which may be considered as a means of intensifying nose breathing. It is obviously scientifically indicated for asthma, more so in fact than the many crudely effective and merely symptomatic and non-curative asthma drugs presently officially part of the identity of westerners.

    With Powerbreathe and the many other similar gadgets inspiration is choked by breathing in through an adjustable aperture. The manufacturers speak of a training of the inspiratory muscles or “specific inspiratory muscle training” abbreviated as SIMT.

    However what obviously must occur to an asthma-minded person is that we here have a remedial exercise for correcting mouth breathing, which is a well known cause of asthma, the details of the causative mechanism not being relevant here.

    The manufacturers also show that not only nose breathing but also diaphragmatic breathing is trained.

    The devices simply divert all input breath via the nose and this is much simpler than learning pranayama, which incidentally does not measure anything on a scale like said devices.

    However, to put it in a nutshell, the purchase of a device is at least provisionally not required, because sucking air past/over a finger held between the lips but otherwise sticking to the devices’ instructions works just as well or better. In fact, the resistance to the inhale can be varied and the effect intensified toward the end so that diaphragmatic breathing is emphasized. RF

  69. I am a serial chest breather. I have hunched shoulders suck in my belly, gasp and puff all the time. I have been a keen jogger for years but now can’t put one foot in front of the other. I know the problem but can’t seam to retrain myself. There is nothing medically wrong and I don’t think I am stressed just got bad habits from 2 frozen shoulders and from trying to keep my belly in!

  70. Mark,
    I appreciate all your excellent health information, especially this superb article on “belly breathing”! As an internal martial artist studying tai chi, qigong, and bagua, I learned that “sinking into the lower dantian” is the best way to breathe. Thank you for your inspiration!

  71. This reminded me of the time I saw my eye doctor for dry eyes and she told me I needed to learn how to blink properly…

  72. I don’t seem to be able to do it right. Only rarely I manage to get in lots of air which is relaxing but most of the time I end up having pain in my chest from the effort. What am I doing wrong?

  73. Great article.
    Pretty sure my chest-breathing has occasionally compounded minor anxieties and also prevented me from being able to fall asleep in any reasonable amount of time…

    Less sleep and less oxygen than I should have been getting, no wonder my focus has felt lacking… I feel better already.

  74. The stressed out ‘sigh’ is very interesting. Our own body has to ‘parent’ us and override are unconscious abuse.

    I have been reading a lot on correct breathing lately. I must admit I am a chest breather and also a mouth breather to add! The mouth breathing should be fixed soon thanks to nasal surgery I am due, but the chest breathing is going to have to start with me constantly reminding myself to breath with the diaphragm.

    Its especially important to me as I practise a Martial Art called ‘Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’ which is kind of like wrestling and Judo combined. It is one of the most physically demanding sports I have ever experienced and its vital to stay relaxed so you get the most out of the gas tank you have, when in some pretty cramped conditions. Correct breathing I hope should help me a lot here. Its quite common to find yourself hunched and crunched into some uncomfortable positions (knee on belly), so being able to remember to breath properly often goes out of the window.

    I have also been using a foam roller for practise outside of fighting. I use it against my back, where the first reaction is to clamp down on the breath or breath lightly and constricted, instead I try to focus on belly breathing.

    Thanks for some great writing, Luke

  75. For a while now I’ve been sensing that something wasn’t “alright” with my posture or my breathing, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what the problem was.

    Today, I sat up and tried breathing while looking in the mirror and I became alarmingly lightheaded within a matter of minutes. Thanks for making this article, I think there are a lot of people who would benefit from explanations and breathing exercises like these

  76. I just landed here after googling “proper breathing”, but I’ve been lurking here for several months now and enjoy the blog posts and comments.

    I’ve just had my 54 y.o. mind blown by something totally unexpected: a Russian breathing technique, which if it correct, means everything we’ve ever been told about breathing is wrong.

    In a nutshell, they say “The deeper the breathing, the less the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues” !!!

    I’m not trying to cause trouble but that site is loaded with references, specific conditions improved by “correct breathing”, charts and graphs, YouTube videos, MD testimonials from several countries, detailed how-to’s, etc. There’s no hocus-pocus, just facts, supposedly tested and confirmed by plenty of level-headed people.

    The story has everything, a insightful medical doctor persecuted for his message, conspiracies, mysterious deaths, millions using the techniques. How do we not know about this?

    I’m not saying it’s right, but what if it is? Anyone else willing to check it out and weigh in here?

    1. hmm… a little more reading around the web and I’m questioning some of the claims. Also I didn’t notice the high priced book with the “complete protocol”. Oh well, it’s always interesting to question dogma in the search for truth, even if the answer is “not completely true”.

  77. WOOOOW!!!! I was having problems getting a full breath. I went on google and stumbled upon this page and started laughing hysterically that everybody in my house thought I was crazy. It worked immediately and I could feel the difference like night and day. It just felt so surreal that I was suffering for weeks and not knowing what to do about it and it just went away for after the first few tries. I love Mark!!!!! My first time ever posting but I thought it would be great to write my very first post on Marksdailyapple.

  78. Nice post, I really liked how you used children’s breathing to observe because majority of the time they are breathing right! Breathing right reaps many benefits.

  79. I’ve been sitting at desks for years.. thinking i was breathing correctly by lifting my chest.

    I suffer IBS and lower back pain, not uncommon i’m sure.

    its really hard to shake the holding breath and shallow chest breathing.. going to stick with it and see how it helps. feel calmer after doing the exercise to start with.

  80. I am a terrible insomniac, and I have recently been using self hypnosis recordings to go to sleep. It works great, but one of the things they have you do to relax, of course, is to do some deep breathing. They keep saying things like “Be aware of your chest moving up as you breathe in.” Well, I have to say, I got a little worried because my chest was not moving, but my belly was going up and down like crazy, so I thought something was wrong with my lungs. I am so glad I found and read this. I’m a belly breather. I feel so much better now.

  81. I will be fairly certain We’ve see this same form of statement somewhere else, it needs to be gathering popularity with the people.

  82. I have been suffering with terrible back since my early 20’s and I am not almost 30. I don’t know what started my chest breathing in the first place, but I sure can tell you from just a few minutes a correct breathing, most of my pain disappears. I attribute a lot of my chest breathing to the narcotic pain meds and muscle relaxants I have taken in order to relieve some of the pain. Narcotics and other meds that affect the central nervous system will affect your respiratory system as well. I constantly felt starved for air just standing! I was always changing positions every few minutes because I could not get comfortable. Over the years I developed muscle imbalances due to improper breathing. Funny thing is, when I thought about things I could do to change my situation, I observed an infant; how the infant moved and breathed and slept. I guess I would call it going back to the basics.

  83. I’ve just bought a book called “Relief from snoring and sleep apnoea” by Tess Graham (Australian) and she mentions fluctuating blood sugar levels stimulating the breathing via stress hormones via imbalanced co2/oxygen. I never linked this feeling to the carbs…till now. Tess recommends more fat and protein in the diet, and is generally very Primal friendly. I’d love to see an update to this article going into the very motivating details in this book. She links stress hormones to food and breathing and subsequent problems very well. She also details the best breathing practice, and it is nose/belly, but also as gentle as you can given the activity level. I now know that even when I nose/belly breathe I can still over breathe, and that I can achieve a better co2/oxygen balance, which is very calming, and my theory is it may explain why meditation is so effective.

  84. After years and years of horrible breathing, I’ve just recently found out (ON MY OWN) how to breathe. Nowhere online does it say HOW exactly to breathe deep. I was manually using ab muscles to breathe in and out, pushing and pulling. Incorrect. All you have to do is simply tighten your ab muscles and not use them in any particular way. Just tighten, then imagine air going in and out of your lungs. This is it. Might help someone. Take care.

  85. loved this article. I had always known I wasn’t breathing right, specially because I run out of air easily when i walk, run, or even talk. Thanks for the tips!

  86. I am having a throat hurting problem since 3 years now, ent are able to treat the symptoms but they don’t know why my throat hurts. the pain increases as I talk more, if i keep quite pain decreases gradually. lets hope this breathing helps me out. anyone having similar problem?

  87. I… I’ve always done this. I didn’t know I was breathing ‘properly’ to me I’ve always just been breathing 😛 It’s not even like I’m super fit it ever had a need to learn deep breathing exercises, I guess I’m just a… naturally good breather? Okay that sounds weird.

  88. I have had trouble breathing for a while and when I breathe shallowly I get a few pains shot in the left side of my chest when I move or breathe it goes when I breathe deeply. Is this a bad sign?

  89. I did the opposite (left hand on chest and right hand on belly)
    The moving hand was the right on stomach.
    when I was little, teachers always taught me that when you breath your chest move and your shoulders go up, but mine never moved. Back then I found that thing weird. Until recently I was unaware about that. My parents are both belly breathers, and when I was 5 I liked to lay down and seeing my belly rise while breathing, just like my parents.

  90. Download Breath Pacer free for controlled breathing! I use it on my iPhone and iPad!

  91. Thank you for this article. I was in marching band and a singer so I knew how to breathe correctly, but years of working at a desk gave me bad habits. I got a foam roller and started working my back and naturally just realized I had been breathing terribly. I looked it up and you are spot on. Now I feel like I can really improve my athletic performance.

  92. This works so well for me. I have to say. I suffered from suvvier pneumonia and that destroyed my breathing patern completely. I felt faint a lot and i just dont feel alive anymore because of it. I sound like i keep hiperventilating as i breathe and that causes me headaches and much more, such as numbness in my limbs,both lower and upper jaws and tongue. It is quite scary as stress is a big part of it. I have visited this website today and it already helps. Thanks so much

  93. How long would this take to become second nature if I practice everyday? I suffer from anxiety, which I think is mainly because I always chest breathe to the point my chest hurts most of the time.

  94. Awesome quote…

    really breathing is a struggle…
    very effective method mentioned…


  95. You literally just changed my life right now
    most people will read this and continue on with with acting as if they did it the entire time. Not realizing how significant this Is.
    I’ve been having trouble breathing for years. YEARS. I didn’t know how to properly breath. I’d try to hyperextend my stomach but use my chest first witg terrible posture
    Not Knowing you’re fricken body and it’s potential is like having an iPhone and only using it for the calculator.
    Ever since I’ve learned the muscles of breathing from medical school, and been aware of their existence, I feel 100% just healthy
    it’s crazy
    having oxygenated blood is so essential for anything you do. It’s legitimately pathetic to me now thinking back that I spent so much money on energy drinks when there’s an unlimited supply surrounding me.
    I’ve learned so many shortcuts I used on my body before that contribute to so many health problems. You DAMAGE your body by doing this stuff folks. For anyone NOT in the medical field, you should read and follow these guidlines for yourself.
    And then maybe you’ll be a new person who has 100% o2 blood pulse ox all of the time with fully perfused and oxygenated tissues.
    oxygen is fuel.
    Think of a steam train. The coal is its fuel. If they only shovel small amounts of coal, small amounts of energy output to drive the train forward, right?
    Large amounts of coal, And maybe a fluorescent brick or two of whatever emit browns crazy ass threw in?
    A lot of energy. It’s simple. Here are a few additional tips to add on to breathing.

    They take a lot of focus so pay attention.
    say “Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh” like you would at the doctor, with your mouth open and everything. Test the potential of yiur open flexibility and notice the sounds your jaw makes, spreading your top and bottom teeth apart to their full limit.
    Not where you hear the sounds and not that there is fricton there. Are you following me?
    Now say “Ahhhhhhh” and abruptly stop.
    Now say “uhhhhhhh” and abruptly stop.
    Repeat alternating these at least 3 times
    Feel that little wiggly door flapping shut?
    Now try to do this without forcing air through your vocal chords.
    Expel all the air out of your lungs and try to position your throat the way it was when you said
    Without expelling any air at all?
    Pay attention, you may not even notice if you’re exhaling.
    Do it without any get control of that flap.
    it may take awhIle, but it can be done.
    that’s how you sing also, by the way. You’re welcome.
    have proper posture, even if you have great big man boobs. Notice that confident fat guy who lost all that weight that one time? No? Then be him.
    this is how your body is built to function. Use it as intended. We are built to be so physically capable. UTILIZE THE POTENTIAL.
    don’t trade health for vanity.
    This is also good for maintaining attractive appearance. Notice how attractive people always look healthy? We are attracted to health. And why shouldn’t we be? It increases your life expectancy. Just BREATH RIGHT.
    And at a rate of at least 8-20 times a minute
    focus on this. Focus on opening your airway, and not using these lazy shortcuts you’ve learned over time.
    Take a BIG breath as described in the article, with that throat flap open.
    Do this for 30 seconds.
    Does it feel like there’s mucous in there? That’s just because you leave it closed all the time.
    you have so much control over your body, more then you know.
    leave this open as often as possible or it becomes an airway obstruction.
    Now just relax. Lie down. Breath right. Create a habit of it. And now you can hold it like that as often as you suck in your stomach with all that extra energy can do when you’re trying to impress people.
    do this the next time you try to sleep too. You’ll be amazed.

  96. Thank you for that very simple explanation of breathing.
    I do belly breathing but it’s hard and complicated to explain to others about the process .

    So thanks


  97. This article is very informative and we should keep reading often and put the advice in practice daily for all human beings for our own good health, including Physical health, Mental health and spiritual health in that order to make this rare human life, worth living to fulfill the mission of our life. We need to pass on this most valuable web site to all our family and friends. We are all most grateful for the people who are responsible to this web site. Please keep up the good work and try to present video clips on all the breathing exercise to the web site to watch and practice in our own Homes which will be a wonderful service.

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  99. A few years ago, I had what was described as “adult onset asthma).

    When I realized that when I used to sing, that I didn’t have any problems, I realized that I had got out of the habit o breathing properly.

    When I went back to my old breathing exercises, my asthma went away, and I have been fine since.

  100. A truly superb article… extremely helpful… thank you.

  101. So glad I came across this post. I’m genuinely curious how this applies to athletic performance. Specifically to intense endurance sports

    I raise this question because I have always been quite efficient and successful at these particular activities………yet my breathing is primarily led by chest expansion. Always has. It is my entire chest mind you, and partially my upper abdomen, but never initiated by my lower abdomen (belly), and never involves my shoulders or a shrug type movement.

    I have tried belly breathing many times in training and during exertion activities due to many articles like this advocating it as “better”, but have found that during the inhalation stage, I lose core strength due to lower (belly) abdominal expansion. And thus, experience an instant lessening in core energy transfer to the activity at hand ie) running, twisting, jumping. I have always been confused as to how that equates to better or proper if performance is sacrificed to make it happen.

    I should also add that I can never recall a difficulty filling my lungs to capacity by chest expansion breathing. I hesitate to call it that actually, beacause it isn’t only my upper chest (it’s my entire rib cage and upper abdomen simultaneously), and it is a far cry from a high shallow breath as described in the post. Regardless, my VO2 Max scores have always been in the superior ranges and activity failure can almost always be attributed to direct muscle failure rather than shortness of breath.

    Would very much love some clarification on this process. Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted and/or been miscoached. Is “belly” (the low area just above the pelvic region) really what is meant in the article? Or did I somehow adapt a way to maximally expand my lungs internally and higher in order to maintain core abdominal strength?

  102. Ok, I just tried lying down and doing the belly breathing as described. I have no idea if I am doing this correctly or not. I put a book on my belly, took a deep breath in, and exhaled slowly. I did not find it relaxing. I found it difficult and hard to concentrate on trying to tighten my abs while trying to exhale…I don’t doubt that it is probably a much better way to breath. I need someone to show me I think. I am a much better visual learner than trying to read this and do it correctly.

  103. Way back in the 60’s I went to a private Catholic school and was forced to hold stomach in and breathe via chest… that is the lady way I was told. Now at 54 years old I have heart problems… low oxygen levels and a host of other problems. I too was in band but I was a snare drummer so belly breathing would have pushed the drum outward.

    I have been learning to meditate and belly breathe however after breathing incorrectly for so many years it is not easy to do. When I make myself conscious of it my heart rate drops into a normal range and I feel very relaxed. I am a type A personality so relaxing is foreign to me but I like it.

    Thank You for the article!

  104. As someone with a bladder prolapse, I have been instructed by several practitioners to breathe with my ribs as belly breathing can contritube to diastisis recti, hernias & prolapse. Sadly a good number of singers have these issues & their belly breathing habits could have contributed. Babies breathe the way they do because they are babies, not necessarily because it is a better way. Also, every breath is a diaphragmatic breath.

  105. I’ve been put onto the idea of breathing from the diaphragm and it feels good – relaxing. I gotta say, that for women, I believe, we don’t breathe with our diaphragm because of vanity. We try to hide, even to ourselves, the extent of our belly/stomachs.

    I find it difficult to free myself up enough to fully extend my stomach while breathing. Getting closer but still hold back re allowing the full extent!

  106. I’m a short breather, I feel like I’m breathing with only 20% of my lungs. I enjoyed this exercise, it almost made me fall asleep.

  107. It just stinks that you have to look like a guy with a pot belly to breathe correctly.

  108. I had a breakdown a couple of months ago after ongoing stress about various things that I thought I was handling okay. Then one night I felt short of breath, couldn’t catch a breath, awake all night, ambulance next day, conclusion panic attack. Obviously I started searching for how to alleviate it as I still couldn’t catch a breath and found belly breathing. I’ve been practising it and has helped with the catching the breath’ problem, but still feel that I’m thinking about it too much and consciously breathing. How long will it take for this to become my natural breathing ?Anyadvice?