Ignorance is not bliss! When it comes to your breathing, what you don’t know could be hurting you, both in the short and long term.

Your breathing habits can have a surprisingly negative effect on your health, and wellbeing, on your athletic and creative abilities, on your performance at work, and in your everyday life.

Here are just a few signs of “bad” breathing—problems and conditions caused or made worse by poor breathing habits:

anxiety, tension, asthma, headaches, chronic fatigue, panic attacks, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, irritability, poor concentration, shortness of breath, phobias, lack of mental clarity, dizziness, cold hands and feet, immune disorders, poor digestion, constipation…

You owe it to yourself to improve your breathing! And as it turns out, there are many simple and easy things you can do to dramatically improve your breathing—and with it—your health and happiness. (*)

To start, there is one thing—an all-important thing you need to do—and that is: Become more conscious of your breathing. You need to practice “Breath Awareness.” You need to pay more attention to how you breathe.

Establish the habit of consciously observing your breath at different times, in different situations, and during different activities. Do it now. Tune into your breath. Notice how you are breathing.

Are you a mouth breather or a nose breather? Are you a chest breather or a belly breather? Are you a shallow breather or a deep breather? Is your breathing fast or is it slow? Is your breathing rhythmic or irregular? What muscles do you use when you breathe? Do you hold your breath at times without realizing it?

The fact is you cannot improve your breathing if you are not aware of how you breathe now. And here is the ruthless truth: if you are serious about improving your breathing and your life, then you need to practice something for at least five to ten minutes, two or three times a day.

Frankly, it seems that most people are either too lazy or too busy to learn and practice healthy breathing. I guess they prefer to wait for a crisis, until they need a doctor, a therapist, drugs or surgery. I hope you are different!

And if you are, if you are willing to make a commitment to yourself, then I’m willing to make a commitment to you: to forever serve and support you in your Breathwork practice.

Visit: www.breathmastery.com. Download a copy of my new book: “Shut Up And Breathe!” Subscribe to my Monthly Newsletter. And browse thru the archives of breathing articles. All this is free!

In the meantime, here are ten commonsensible ways to improve your breathing:

1. At the top of the list are good old-fashioned aerobic exercises. Get someone to kick your butt and get you moving and breathing! Choose your activities and adjust the intensity of them to match your abilities and your level of health.

2. Take a hike! And breathe to the rhythm of your footsteps. Start with a 2-2 pattern: breathe in for two steps and breathe out for two steps. Then gradually increase your pace and the count to 3-3 and 4-4.

Fred is a retired restaurant owner. He said this to me recently: “I walk every day. If it rains I walk. If it snows I walk. I do yoga and I meditate. Every day.” Fred is seventy-two years old, and he barely looks fifty. He started his breathing practice when he was sixty-five.

3. Another obvious way to improve breathing are exercises that stretch and increase chest flexibility and those that strengthen the abdomen and condition the diaphragm. If your chest and spine are stiff and rigid, if your diaphragm is weak or frozen, then you are robbing yourself of breath and life.

4. Do Tai chi, Yoga, Chi Kung, or any other practice that involves slow graceful movements coordinated with breathing. Pilates is an excellent way to improve breathing by developing more flexibility and core strength.

5. Stop wasting energy. Don’t use “accessory muscles” to breathe. Your neck muscles, shoulder muscles and back muscles are not breathing muscles. Putting too much effort into breathing is an exhausting exercise in futility!

The habit of rapid and shallow “chest breathing” is a good example of wasted breath energy. Imagine running a business where it costs you two dollars to make every one!

6. Learn and practice “diaphragmatic breathing.” Most of your blood flow and air exchange takes place in the lower portion of your lungs. And so, practice “belly breathing” until it is an unconscious habit—until you literally do it in your sleep!

Slow diaphragmatic breathing results not only in in deeper and more restful sleep, but it also makes for sweeter dreams! Many people report blissful “flying” dreams when they make the switch from chest breathing to belly breathing.

7. Practice lengthening your exhales. Make your exhales longer. Take time to stretch them out. When you focus on exhaling slowly and completely, your inhales automatically become fuller, deeper, and without any extra effort.

8. Breathe more slowly. Breathing less than 12 breaths per minute correlates with good overall health. The rate of 6 to 8 breaths per minute is considered a “therapeutic zone.” It improves everything from high blood pressure to asthma.

Breathing more slowly actually increases cellular oxygenation! And it activates the vagus nerve, which controls heart rate, digestion, and it is associated with a relaxed restorative state. Slow breathing also increases alpha waves in the brain. That’s a very good thing!

9. Learn “Bellows Breathing” to energize yourself. This ancient yogic technique stimulates the natural production of epinephrine. It involves breathing quickly and actively: 2 to 3 breaths per second (120 to 180 breaths per minute). You should sound like a busy bicycle pump! Do it for a minute or two, then rest for an equal amount of time. Several cycles of this will give you a healthy burst of energy.

10. Master the Full Yogic Breath. Fill up all three breathing spaces: lower, middle, and upper. When you breathe in, think of how you fill a glass with water: from the bottom up. Fill up your lungs in the same way. Then relax and release the breath, letting it pour out fully by itself.

A breathing coach can shorten your learning curve and accelerate your progress. To master some of these exercises you may require some hands on training. For help in locating a good Breathworker, email me at:danbrule@breathmastery.com

Some Additional Tips for Improving Your Breathing

Apply the “Two to One” Pattern: Make your exhales twice as long as your inhales. Experiment with different counts, but keep the same ratio. For example: Exhale 4, inhale 2. Exhale 6: inhale 3. Exhale 8, inhale 4. Mix it up and vary your rhythms. (You can count using seconds, heartbeats, or your footsteps.)

Blowing up balloons is good exercise to increase your lung capacity. And so is simply exhaling against pursed-lips. This creates natural resistance and pressure in the airways, which helps to maximize oxygen absorption.

You can also practice blowing out a candle. Start by holding it at arms length. And then try to blow it out from further and further distances. And singing, humming, and playing wind instruments are also easy and fun ways to improve your breathing.

You can also simply practice counting on the exhale. Take in a deep breath and then count out loud until you run out of air. “One, two, three, four, five, six… (Squeeze the last few counts out in a whisper) fifty-six, fifty-seven, fifty-eight, fifty-nine…” Practice every day. Increase your count till you get to one hundred!

Good luck in your practice!


PS: If you are ready to get onto the Path of Breath Mastery right now, you can enroll in the 60-Day Online Course: “21 Lessons in the Art and Science of Breathwork.”Visit: http://breathmastery.com/onlinecourse

Or, join my Breath Mastery Inner Circle, and freely access almost 40 years of breath and breathing research, articles, essays, audio/video files, seminar transcripts, workshop handouts, and even complete training manuals! Visit:


(*) NOTE:None of this is meant as a substitute for medical advice. If you have a medical condition or any health concerns, consult your physician or a qualified medical professional before starting any exercise program.

Author's Bio: 

Dan Brulé has studied and practiced breathwork with more than 80,000 people in over 40 countries since 1976. His travel and teaching schedule is posted at www.breathmastery.com.