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British Lung Foundation
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How to breathe properly?

There are a lot of posts here about how to breathe properly, so apologies to the people that have been members here for years because it must get tiresome answering the same question over and over. I’ve read a lot of the conversations, many going back years, and a lot of them talk about chest breathing and tummy breathing. I have tried to do the tummy breathing but it’s not happening. The only way my tummy goes up is to do this bizarre Blackadder-esque tummy thrust, which isn’t actually me breathing. I’ve been trying to surreptitiously watch other people breathing to see what’s going on. Someone here wrote about getting so accustomed to not breathing well that we forget how to breathe properly. Someone said about putting your hand on your stomach and it should go up and down. Unless I’ve forgotten where my tummy starts now that it’s started to spread to the rest of my body, nothing much is happening by way of breathing, much below the bottom of my ribs.

Sorry to ask what I’m sure has been asked so many times already. But I haven’t found anything to explain in a way that I can understand, how to tummy breathe. I can’t seem to make the air go down that far. I always feel short of breath so I’d be really grateful to learn how to breathe better. Thank you.

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" Try putting your hand as flat as you can on your stomach.. take in a deep breath through your nose..hold about 4 seconds...

Then breath out through pursed lips. Here is a simple thing to remind you." Smell the roses..and blow out the candle " practice will.make perfect. Also if you go into YouTube..you will learn a lot from watching the videos. Good luck...Megan.."

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Thanks for your reply. I had thought of searching for tummy breathing on YouTube but I was too afraid, I’ve had some extremely unexpected results searching for things there! I’m going to try practicing the breathing 👍

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Hi! I'm afraid my breathing technique isn't fab,so I'm not going to try and complicate matters for you. U Tube have so many breathing videos,its really worth trying some of them. My problem is apparently called dysfunctional breathing and I'm on the waiting list to see the physiotherapist - I suffer from anxiety and it can make matters worse,even though I know I'm not helping myself. How silly is that? I'm sure you'll get sensible, more helpful answers from our members. Best wishes.

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Anxiety is awful, it’s all pervasive and overwhelming. It’s totally not silly, even though it’s not logical to be anxious and make things worse through anxiety, I think it must be a part of human nature to burden ourselves with anxiety. Your reply seemed eminently sensible to me. Thank you for replying. I feared I’d asked a silly question and no one would answer. Much appreciated 👍

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Hi

Sample.

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Thanks Stone that explains it so clearly. It was amazing to watch her stomach going up and down. I can see I’m going to be watching this video a lot 👍

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Wow thanks Stone, that was so special, the breathing. I find it is harder to feel the tummy moving, when there is extra fat there.

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Hello HungryHufflepuff,

I have a number of breathing problems and have not been breathing properly for awhile. I was advised to see a physiotherapist who helped me so much. She educated me to use my nose instead of my mouth. The physio gave me excercises to educate the body to breathe properly.The benefit is amazing.

I understand how the breathing mechanism works. Breathing through the nose allows the DIAPHRAM to expand allowing more oxygen into the lungs. The tummy then moves up and down.

It is important that you seek medical advice from a Doctor who will, I'm sure guide you to the correct course of action to take.

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Thanks 👍 I’ve seen a number of posts about breathing in through the nose and I’ve been paying attention to how I breathe, and I realised that I’m breathing in and out of my mouth only, like you were too I guess. Not sure why that is or when it started, but breathing in through my nose feels really odd now. I’m going to really try to practise the proper breathily technique. Do you find that you breathe in through your nose all the time now, or just when you’re focusing on your breathing?

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Hello HungryHufflePuff,

I now breath though my nose normally without thinking about it but it took a lot of hard work and patience. I was told by my physiotherapist that if I can see my tummy moving up and down I'm trying too hard. Believe me, once you get the technique right, you won't see the tummy moving at all which means you will be breathing properly.

All the best to you. If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask and I can help I will try.

Mikewes13

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I feel for you Hun, I do the Breathing which I Learned at Respitorary Rehab, one hand on Tummy the other on chest, Inhale through Nose hard as you can and Exhale slowly through Mouth pursing lips like blowing a candle out, I'm sat here typing and Breathing as I explain...Sometimes I can let the Day Go without doing the exercise, naughty me, I think I rely too much on my Oxygen which is a bad Habit. If you can't use your Nose, then I feel you need to see your GP or a Physio for COPD. Good Luck, keep practising > XXX

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It must be really hard to do breathing exercises every day. I’ve already vowed to start doing some physical exercise every day. It’s a bit overwhelming and I’m not a very disciplined person but I really want to breathe better, lose weight and get healthier, and it’s only recently that I realised I need to make it happen, it won’t happen by itself. So I’m going to try doing exercise of both sorts every day. Try being the operative word here!

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Hi My Love, I too forget, and try and double up as I watch TV, I Breathe in (Nose) to a count of 5 looking at the side of the Screen then exhale to a count of 10 looking across the top of the Screen, Sounds silly, but it works and I can be lazy by doing it in my chair watching TV, Self Discipline is so Hard I agree, If We can Pack in Smoking or our favourite Foodie, Then we can do this every Day and exercise which I do every day.. Good Luck Hungry. XXXX

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Thanks. I haven’t got off to the best start with the breathing exercises and physical exercise but I did your idea of when I was watching tv yesterday evening I was trying to focus on breathing in through my nose just to get used to the idea. It’s not something I seem to do naturally so I’ll try to think of practicing this when sitting down, like when watching tv.

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Practice makes perfect They say.....xxxxxx

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I was a mouth breather for years, and I still do it if I am not careful...then I tend to over breathe or hyperventilate.

David Carbonell on you tube has some good advice on belly breathing.

It's important to relax , especially the upper chest, drop your shoulders and relax diaphragm. Don't force the breath, gentle not big breaths, but low into the bottom of your lungs. Try and let your body breathe gently , don't force it, the air will come in naturally.....in and out of your nose which helps to warm and filter as well as preventing over breathing.

Stressful situations can make me breathe faster and use my upper chest , which makes me more anxious and breathless in the end.

Breathe low and slow and gently. If you feel the need to mouth breathe, stop, rest, maybe lean forward , and gain control before re establishing nose breathing .

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Thanks. I think I was confusing deep breaths for forced big breaths, and it was making me cough. I’ll try with gentle breaths. I felt really embarrassed asking my initial question, because I thought it made it look as if I found breathing to be complicated. In fact it is complicated, all these new techniques to practice and learn. But I will practice until it becomes easier.

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I've recently been introduced to 'purse breathing' and it brings my sats out of the doldrums quite quickly so I must be doing something right.

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You must be 😎 That’s great. There’s so much incredible advice here that I’m hoping to start doing something right too.

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One of the shortest singing exercises I know for diaphragm breathing is to say "Aha!" as if you're Poirot or some other detective discovering a key clue. The pressure on the "ha" part usually gets the lower lungs moving.

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I’ll try that. I saw posts about singing being great for developing breathing techniques but my singing is so bad that no way would I try singing. (I used to be able to sing, I was in a glee club type choir, but I’ve forgotten how to sing) 🙁 I’ll give the Poirot aha a go though. Thanks 👍

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I run a group called Breathe Better Sing Together which uses singing for lung health. There are no auditions and most members were told at some time in the past (usually childhood) that they can't sing. For a couple that is true, but for most, once they start singing, I can tell that their only problem singing was because their voices were too low to sing a normally pitched tune. It may be worth checking out singing groups near you on the British Lung Foundation web pages. Not all of them will expect new members to be beautiful singers.

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Hi, if u tube videos don't help you could try talking to a yoga teacher. I have completely changed my breathing with the help of a friend who teaches yoga. I was never a big fan, but we do seated yoga in a 1-1 session which really has helped control my breathing. Also good for relaxation and controlling anxiety! I hope you find something that helps you soon.

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Thank you. I’ve seen a number of posts recommending yoga. It’s something that I’ve never tried. But so many people have said it’s really helped them with their breathing, and also to relax, that I really ought to give it a try.

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Great post HungryHufflepuff.......thanks I have learnt so much this morning from everyone who responded. I'll be practising daily until hopefully it comes naturally. Thanks again everyone.😀😀😀

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Thanks. Me too, I have learned so much already and am just bowled over by how many people have taken the time to give such helpful advice. I too will be practicing daily and look forward to the day when it comes naturally.

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Sat in a chair I can get an increase of 10%. It tapers off but I can learn to breathe correctly cos I, like all you wonderful people in cyber land, can do anything. Plus I've got 30 years of pension to spend 😊

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Yes I breathe in from my stomach through my nose for 4 seconds then I hold it in for 7 seconds and release slowly through purses lips for 8 seconds I do it 5 times it is wonderful it is the 4 7 8 breathing technique

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That sounds very relaxing. I’ve been trying to use that breathing technique while sitting here reading this. It still doesn’t come naturally to breathe in through my nose but hopefully with the practising I will get there.

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Good luck keep up the practice it works for me and I actually do feel better

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