Don’t Forget to Breathe

How to improve breath

Take away meditation, exercise and good nutrition, we’re left with the basics of our body. Our most important tool, the natural variable that can profoundly affect our mood, energy and to improve deep breth Our Breath. But I want to tell you, don’t forget to breathe as this is our most basic mechanism to a wider range of health.

Breath work and breathing exercises have been around since before the early scripture of yogis and gurus. One of the ills of todays is that we live in a world of shallow breathers and many have forgotten the most basic skill we are born with.

The marvellous news is that deep breathing is coming back in to fashion and there are a host of enthusiast breath worker that are healing people with some amazing techniques and programs.

Getting my breath back

Many years ago, in my dark times of anxiety, I was a shallow chest breather and forgot how to deep breath. I literally forget how to get a deep diaphragmatic breath into my body.  It wasn’t until and went through an extreme health decline that a professional made me aware of this.

I was never aware of how shallow I was breathing or what a normal, healthy person should breath like. I also never knew how important breath was to my anxiety disorder at the time.

When I dug into the importance of using the proper posture and breathing techniques, I saw a positive effect in my health, fitness and anxiety. I went from using 40% breathing capacity to an 80% breathing capacity.

Lung function test using max capacity and other breathing muscles

how to strengthen lungsHere is a quick test to check how much breathing capacity you are using right now.

Step 1. Breath in and out what you feel is a normal way to breath. Not forced and in a natural way.

Step 2. After a few of these normal breathes, Breath in and stop. Don’t breathe out.

Step 3. Force in another breath in as much as you can.

Step 4. Breath out and compare how much your first breath in was to your second forced breath in.

What most people find is that their first breath is only about 30-50% of their breathing capacity. This shows that they are not naturally using all their breathing muscles and not efficiently utilizing their lung capacity.

This stems from weakened diaphragm muscles, the loss of the subconscious breathing patterns and can be signs of stress or illness. Worsen signs include shortness of breath.

How do I get rid of shortness of breath?

If you’ve had long standing days or weeks of shortness of breath and doctors can’t define any serious problems, they will normally point the finger at anxiety or depression. This may be the case but conventional medicine doesn’t always look at alternative reasons that can create this.

Bad Posture affects breathing – If you’re a desk jokey or a lounge sloucher, you are in the position to weaken the critical muscles that allow you to take in deep breaths.

Try to become aware of your posture when sitting at a desk, lounge or even walking. I’ve been using posture brace for years and this has helped a lot with my desk posture. Also, the use of ergonomics desk chairs and standing desks improved my awareness to my posture.

Get a breathing Coach

The master of breathing, Michael Grant White has an array of information, courses and tools to improve your breathing for longevity. I purchased his Optimal Breathing Self Mastery Kit and improved my breathing strength using his guidance.

His Optimal Breathing consultation is scientifically backed and can be used for improving health, reducing stress, healing past traumas, and even for a better sex life.

Check out for a plethora of resources that will get you breathing better in no time.

Expand Lungs and core breathing muscles with Wim Hof – The internet calls him the Ice Man and he holds many cool world records like the longest person to stay submerged under ice or climb Mount Everest in a nothing but boots and pair of shorts.

The Wim Hof Method not only helped expand my breath, but helped me use oxygen more efficiently. His techniques include a combination of deep like hyper breaths and breath holding. I also improved my breath hold from 20 seconds to a maximum of 3 minutes and 23 seconds.

His techniques have an amazing stimulation to the autonomous immune system and in a scientific trial, he and others that who have learned his method were able to fight off symptoms of illness when injected with a bacterium that would cause vomiting and other flu like symptoms.

My biggest take away from Wim was learning how to hold my breath and rid the panic attack symptoms that I would normally feel when anxious. When in a panic attack, it feels like you can’t breathe. Knowing I could hold my breath for minutes seem to override this feeling of breathlessness.

Breath Fast and slow – Just being aware of your breath at more times of the day is a start to improving. Mindful breathing can be developed with breathing meditations or using a friend in your pocket.

There are some amazing breathing apps available that can help you develop a better breathing technique in just a few minutes a day.

Breathing Zone – iOS and Android

Discover Mindfulness, One breath a time. This app has a smooth colourful interface with soothing voices to help teach you how to slow down your breath.

It has been very popular and here are what some of the critics are saying about it:

  • Time: “Calm yourself with Breathing Zone.”
  • Harvard Health: “When you find yourself under stress, Breathing Zone can help.”
  • Bloomberg: “The breathing trick that can make you more productive.”
  • New York Magazine: “Sometimes the fastest way to combat anxiety or an oncoming panic attack is just to remember to breathe. I like Breathing Zone for its simplicity.”
  • Huffington Post: “An effective guide to mindful breathing.”
  • LifeHacker: “Breathing Zone Guides you towards slower breathing to help reduce stress.”

breathing zone app review

Breath2Relax – iOS and Android

This a portable stress management tool which provides instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing. A powerful little app to helps decrease the body’s ‘fight-or-flight’ (stress) response, and help with mood stabilization, anger control and anxiety management.

Breathe2Relax App review

Breathe Deep – iOS

Another great free breathing app based on Pranayama breathing techniques and provides visualization to control breath and live feedback.

Sessions can range from 1-15 minutes, include warm up exercises, uses sound and vibrations to cue inhalation or exhalation.

The oxygen AdvantageGet the Oxygen Advantage

Patrick McKeown is a world renown author and breathing practitioner who is a master in Butekyo. At a young age, Patrick suffered from asthma and relied on many medicines and inhalers until he discovered the Butekyo method.

His book, The Oxygen Advantage is a simple yet revolutionary approach to improving your body’s oxygen use, increasing your health, weight loss, and sports performance.

He’s a fan of nose breathing and taping up your mouth at night to force a restful sleep.

Don’t hold your breath and get start now

Breathing is something we can all work on anytime and can have marginal health improvements with some simple adjustments.

I want you to breathe easy now and get working on improving your oxygen efficiently and have a happier life.

Have you used any of the tips, programs or tools above? Please let me know how they have affected your life in the comments below.

36 Comments on Don’t Forget to Breathe

  1. Vince,

    Great article. I think I only give thought to my breathing when I’m out of breath. Applying some of these techniques should help me be out of breath less often.

    • Thanks for your comment Rick. Most of use aren’t really aware of our breath until its a problem. I glad this post has brought more breath awareness to you and hope it does the saem for others.

  2. Wow… did I need to read this?! I have severe anxiety and sometimes stop breathing for several minutes. And I am a very shallow breather in general. No one has every recommended breathing exercises or getting a breathing coach before… thanks for this! You will help a lot of people.

    • Hi Darcy, I hope you manage to overcome the anxiety in your life. Daily breathing exercise is just as powerful as meditation to help with mental fitness. I hope you benefit from these tips.

  3. I never paid much attention to breathing. Your article offers helpful info & will definitely put them to use. The WinHof method was fascinating. I’m going to test it out to see how many push ups I can do without breathing.

    Thank you for your helpful info!

    • Thanks for stopping by Daniel. Check out Wim’s 10 week course which also includes some cold submersion for profound health benefits.

  4. Hey Vince,
    Thanks for this! – I often find myself breathing super shallow, and I think it’s due to the bad habits of being in a slight state of tension throughout the day.. so I think anything that reminds us to take deeper breaths such as the meditation app you mentioned is a total win for our health. You mentioned holding the mouth together at night – is there some sort of device I could buy to help with this, do you know please? – Cheers!

    • Thanks for your comment Dave.
      Medical tape is what I’ve usein the past to tape my mouth at night. This is a specific brand called Breathe Right especially made for taping up your mouth. It’s much more sensitive on the skin.

  5. Many times during meditation I am focused on my breath, but I need to take more time to breath deeper during other times of the day. thanks for putting the focus on our lungs!

  6. Hi Vince I enjoy reading your articles. I don’t have breathing issue and pray not to. My concern about people that snore while sleeping. Do you thing it is associated to breathing problem. I will also go for the app you suggested to show my friends. Thanks

    • Snoring and sleep apnea is sign of health issues. It is the body telling you something is wrong.

      I used to suffer from both and thankfully heaved the signs of bad health and got back on track.

  7. What an interesting post you’ve written Vince. I hadn’t even thought about this before. But it does make sense what you’re saying.

    I’ll have to try those exercises and see how much that I am breathing in. My problem is that I don’t have good posture so I should work on that. Also, I’m at a desk for a few hours a day. I really need to watch my posture when working in the computer.

    Great article and I’ll be definitely using the advice here.

    Thank you.

    • Thanks for your feedback Owain.

      I’m at a desk for at least 4-9 hours of my day. Ergonomics seats, standing desks and posture braces have improved my posture very quickly.

  8. Everything I hear or even see the word breath it makes me more aware. Love the insights, will be reading more from your site for sure! I listen to a lot of audios, they really do help with my crazy mind 😉

  9. Hey Vince, thanks for this. I actually read this twice because I wanted to make sure I took it all in. The information here is excellent.

    It’s funny because I never think of my breathing until I try to go to sleep, and then I become really conscious of it. I always do breathing exercises when I am ready for sleep and it helps immensely for people who’s minds don’t want to switch off for the day.

    I will be looking into the apps that you suggested.

    Thanks Vince for another great post.

    • Appreciate your comment Melissa. It seem like many really notice their breath when falling asleep. It could be a sleep aid or most quiet part of the day.
      If you can focus on your breath when you wake up as well, awareness will build throughout the day.

  10. I’m glad I came across this article because lately I’ve caught my posture becoming much poorer. It wasn’t until the other day when I yawned that I realized how much harder it was to take a deep breath. Will definitely be working on those deep breathing techniques and decreasing stress. I didn’t even realize my posture had been effecting my breathing that much! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks for stopping by Sarah and hope you posture improves with theses tips.
      Also, yoga is a great way to stretch your breathing muscles and work on stress. Have you tried it before?

  11. Wow, I did not know you went through so much. It is reassuring to know you found strength with your breath. I should do the same. I have been quite stressed lately with midterm and I often forget to breath, so it only multiplies what I am already experiencing.

    I do have a question though. Do you offer any personal coaching or is that something you have planned for the future? I quite enjoy reading your work and I think a lot of people could benefit from your personal guidance.

    Thank you so much and I hope you make it a great day!

    • Hi Alex, if you after a specific breathing coach, my advice is checkout for the best in the business of breathing.
      The Wim Hof 10 week program is also a great life addition.

  12. Wow, I didn’t know there are breathing techniques like you mentioned and that they are essential to one’s health. Great and very useful information! I would try one of those apps and see how I’m doing. While reading, I also tried breathing deeply and it felt really good. Thank you for this! Great job!

  13. I really enjoyed this post. Breathing is one of the most important mechanisms for good health and many don’t realize this. Babies breathe perfectly. Deep breaths with no interruption. Then as we go through life with hard times, health problems, our breathing worsens I find. At least for me, depression and anxiety got the worst of my breathing. And now I do try to implement breathing techniques especially at night when I am laying in bed and it really helps! Thanks again for this.

  14. Hi Vince, and thanks for this informative post. There’s so much to learn here. My son and I suffer from anxiety too, and the advice here sounds great. I had no idea how breathing properly could have such a positive impact on your health. I am definitely bookmarking this post and will send it along to my son.

    • All the best with it Suzzane. Also look up Alternate Nostril Breathing Techniques (Nadi Shodhan Pranayama) if you need to a quick calm down for anxiety.

  15. Hey Vin,

    Very interesting post. i had never thought about getting a breathe coach prior to this. Didn’t realize coaches like this exist. I know that breathing is a critical component to meditation and will definitely be checking out the optimal breathing mastery course you recommended.

    • Thanks for your comment Barry. I m glad I could open up this are in your life. It’s a skill we can all work on at anytime in life.

  16. This is an amazing post. Glad you mentioned Wim Hof. I just knew this guy recently from Tony Robbins Unleash The Power Within. This guy is amazing. We have been taking “breathing” for granted. It’s actually one of the most important aspect for our survival.

    By the way, I still don’t get it whether our diaphragm go up or go down when we breath in. What I learnt at UPW is that our diaphragm go up when we breath in which reduces our lungs capacity. There are ways for us to breath more deeply and efficiently which I haven’t get the hang of it.

    • There are different opinions on diaphragm breathing. I think the best way to describe a deep breath is to expand the diaphragm in a way that you can even feel it expand in your lower back.
      Thanks for your comment Jerry.

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