Breathing is essential

A not very innovative headline, because we all know that breathing is essential. Without breathing there is no life, but that does not prevent us from not breathing very well on balance. Often too superficial and because it is an unconscious process, we pay very little attention to it during our lives. That could be different…


Strictly speaking, it is nothing more or less than air that flows into the lungs through an inhalation. This goes via the mouth and/or nose, the airways, the branches and the bronchiolo to the alveoli. Here the fresh air is absorbed into the blood and the carbon dioxide is released into the air. You exhale the latter through the nose and/or mouth. Seemingly a simple process, but apart from being very ingenious, it is also essential to lead a normal life.

Diaphragmatic and chest breathing

When you breathe from the diaphragm or abdomen, you expand the chest cavity by lowering the diaphragm. When you breathe through the chest, it is the intercostal muscles that increase the volume of the chest cavity. Your ribs are, as it were, pulled forward and slightly upward.

Outside help

Most people do it automatically. It is an impulse from the respiratory center in the medulla oblongata of the brain stem. However, if your lungs no longer function optimally, for whatever reason, additional oxygen may need to be brought in. Far from ideal and not infrequently, people in a more advanced stage are put on the list for a lung transplant (if the options are available).

Some of the known conditions that can cause disturbed breathing to a greater or lesser extent:

  • Asthma is possibly the best known. This concerns an inflammation of the lungs.
  • Sinusitis, which is inflamed sinuses. The sinuses are located at the front of the skull.
  • Bronchitis, where the bronchi are inflamed and may be the result of, for example, a bad cold.

Source: Johnhain, Pixabay

How yoga can help you

Because the emphasis is increasingly on good breathing, and that is what yoga is known for, we are finally slowly but surely becoming more aware of it. That is an excellent development, because it has a direct or indirect positive effect on various conditions. This conscious process has already changed or optimized many people’s breathing and, especially if you have conditions – for example as described above, it can bring relief.

A conscious breathing exercise

  • Lie stretched out on the floor (this can also be the yoga mat or your bed).
  • Then place one hand on the stomach and one hand on the chest.
  • Do not breathe differently than you did before, but make sure you concentrate on breathing and maintain focus.
  • Consider whether your chest rises more, your stomach or both.

Make sure you continue these exercises for at least a few minutes. In this way, focus on your breathing and you become aware of how you breathe. This calms many people, so it is also useful to use when experiencing stress.

There are several exercises that can help with breathing. Watch the special with many exercises for this.

What to do and what not to do

What is good and what is not good when it comes to your breathing?

  • If you are sick, and not just something related to your breathing, there is no point in doing breathing exercises.
  • Do not hold your breath during a yoga exercise if you are not familiar with yoga breathing.
  • Always breathe in through the nose.
  • If you want to learn conscious breathing, make a habit of taking conscious breaths at least five times every day. Slowly but surely it becomes a more conscious process and you will breathe better.
  • If you want to cool down your body (for example after a workout), you can do an exercise where you roll up your tongue and inhale through the mouth and exhale very calmly through the nose. Also good against high blood pressure.
  • If you focus on your breathing, redirecting your breathing (as described above) makes sense to do in a lying position, but the actual exercises are preferably done while sitting with a straight back.
  • When you are busy, busy, you often have high chest breathing. Try to temper this and breathe lower and calmer. This can also remove the associated stress.


So obvious and yet not breathing is of vital importance, that is nothing new. But we still do far too little in consciously working on our breathing, if only to improve it. This, while it can mean so many extras for your body. But use it!