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I want to learn how to breathe “properly”.  I have noticed lately that my automatic way of breathing is chest breathing.  I watched a video on the shortfalls of chest breathing and how diaphragmatic / belly breathing is far superior.  It is supposed to be our natural way of breathing and the way that we all breathe up until the age of 5.  Is there a practice that I can adopt so that my automatic method of breathing is belly breathing?  Is there a practice to enhance breathing in general?




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Hi Ryan,

First of all, I would be careful about saying one or the other is superior. Context always matters, and there are times when belly breathing isn't best. That said, yes, when just relaxing, your default mode of breathing should generally be diaphragmatic.

Why do you think your default is chest breathing? The answer is actually likely to be fairly complex, but a big part of it (at this point) is that it has become habit. So how do you replace one habit with another? The answer is simple, but not exciting: You just need to do the work - bring awareness and intention to the breath as often as possible throughout the day. In time, the old habit will be replaced with the new.

As for supplementary practices, do you have a meditation or lying relaxation practice? As you truly begin to relax very deeply, your body will naturally begin to breathe diaphragmatically. Put another way, if you're always chest breathing, there's a good chance you're walking around all day with a high baseline of stress. A meditation/relaxation practice can help you notice and change this.

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