Unlike other bodily functions, breathing is used to help us communicate between each of these dichotomies, which makes it a fantastic tool for facilitating positive change in our lives, whether we're doing it voluntarily or involuntarily.
Breathing consciously can actually be used to influence some of the sympathetic nervous system's functions, such as the regulation of blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, circulation, and much more. As such, breathing exercises act as a bridge into bodily functions over which we generally have little to no control.
When we become emotionally stressed, our nervous system becomes stimulated, which ends up causing a few physical reactions. We sweat, our heart rate increases, our breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and our muscles tense up. If this occurs for an extended period of time, our nervous system may become overstimulated, leading to muscle pain, high blood pressure, inflammation, and other unwanted symptoms. However, all of these can be reversed or prevented by using deep breathing exercises.
You can train breathing to affect both positive and negative health influences. Being stressed can lead the muscular and connective tissue in your chest to get restricted, which will result in a decreased range of motion in your chest wall. Shallow and rapid breathing causes the chest to expand less than it would with deeper breaths, which results in 'chest breathing'.
To find out if you are a chest breather simply place your left hand on your abdomen and your right hand on your chest. Take a few breaths in and out and see which hand rises the highest. If your left hand rises the most, then you are an abdomen breather, however, if it is your right hand which rises highest, then that means that you're a chest breather.
Chest breathing is not efficient since most of the blood flow ends up taking place in the lungs' lower lobes, areas which only have limited air expansion for chest breathers. This results in poor delivery of nutrients to the tissues and less oxygen transfer to the blood.
Luckily, similar to learning to ride a bicycle or play a guitar, you can actually train your body to improve its breathing technique. By practicing regularly, you'll be able to make your body utilize abdomen breathing most of the time, even while you sleep.
Abdominal breathing is frequently also called diaphragmatic breathing. Your diaphragm is a huge muscle which can be found between the abdomen and chest. While contracting it is pushed downwards, which results in the abdomen expanding, and forcing air into the lungs. At the same time, blood is pumped into the chest, which improves blood flow to the heart, strengthening the immune system and boosting physical stamina.
By making use of abdominal breathing, you will also increase the flow of lymph in your body, which will help prevent lung-based infection and other respiratory illnesses. Additionally, you will also be constantly stimulating your body's relaxation mechanism, resulting in a greater overall sense of well-being.