uring the first step of the Essential Breath™ program we work on mastering two specific breathing mechanics, nasal and diaphragmatic breathing. Here's an overview of Step 1.
One of the most difficult adjustments made during the Essential Breath™ program is transitioning to nasal breathing all the time, especially when sleeping. Did you know that other than the human, only two animals in the entire animal kingdom breathe through their mouths?
The nose is the organ designed for bringing air into the body, and more specifically into the lungs. The mouth is for eating, drinking and talking only, not for breathing.
It turns out the lungs are rather fussy about the air coming in. The nose has a very important job preparing the air for the lungs using 30 different processes, the most important of which are:
In Step 1 of the Essential Breath™ program, we emphasize nasal breathing over mouth breathing and address the common reasons people breathe through their mouth, the biggest being nasal congestion.
Human's have two sets of breathing muscles, the diaphragm and intercostal muscles. The diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle and the one that should be used most of the time. The intercostal muscles, the muscles between the ribs, are a “backup” mechanism that should only be used if the diaphragm becomes damaged or impaired and during intense physical exercise.
The diaphragm is a thin, elastic, band-like muscle attached to the bottom of the lungs. When you breathe in, the diaphragm contracts downwards. This creates negative pressure inside the lungs and the outside air is sucked inward. When you breathe out the diaphragm snaps back, pushing up against the bottom of the lungs forcing the air out.
Unfortunately, chest breathing (use of the intercostal muscles) only works on the upper one-third of the lungs. This is very inefficient breathing, especially for athletes or folks with lung problems. With chest breathing, the lungs have to work harder and more frequently (inhaling and exhaling) to get the same amount of air into the lungs.
To check if you're chest breathing, stand sideways in front of a mirror. Watch the chest as you breathe. If you see the upper-half of your chest moving, you are chest breathing. If you see your shoulders rising and falling, your chest breathing is significant. If your upper-chest is completely motionless there's a good chance you are breathing as you should with your diaphragm.
The goal of Step 1 of the Essential Breath™ program is to get your breathing centered where it should be. This starts with ensuring nasal breathing and diaphragmatic breathing occur every day and all the time. How you breathe really matters.