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Why breathing like a baby might help reduce your stress levels

11 February 2019

“It’s about remembering how we used to breathe when we were babies and toddlers.”

Breathing expert Rebecca Dennis runs ‘breathing sessions’ to help people manage their stress. She observes that many of the people who attend her sessions use their neck and shoulders when taking in a breath, whereas “babies’ breath always starts in their belly”.

Rebecca recommends returning to that youthful model by embracing the “mothership of all breathing muscles”: the diaphragm.

Are you breathing the right way?

Are we conditioned to breathe the wrong way by having been told to hold our bellies in?

“A lot of us are conditioned [at quite an early age] to hold our bellies in,” Rebecca explained.

But deep, diaphragmatic belly breathing – where the belly protrudes when you inhale – sends messages to the brain that keep us in a more relaxed state.

“We’re not aware of how we breathe throughout the day; we forget to take a breath or we’re shallow breathing.”

But taking a more active approach to our breathing, Rebecca believes, can have a positive impact on our mental and physical health.

  • One final tip: it’s also better to breathe through the nose than through the mouth, because its hairs prevent dust and pollution from entering the respiratory system.

‘Alternate Nostril Breathing’

Hilary Clinton is a fan, but what is Alternative Nostril Breathing? (From 2017)

How to breathe like a dolphin

Danish marine biologist Stig Severinsen broke a world record by spending 22 minutes underwater on a single breath of air. (From 2017)

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