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I realized that my breathing pattern is very shallow, sometimes almost lacking. As a programmer I spend a lot of time at the computer. I do exercise regularly, although maybe not intensely enough.

I have some issues, that might or might not be associated with it:

  • I get somewhat frequently sick
    • few times a year, always the same thing - mucous flowing from nose down the throat. This is somewhat permanent, even when I am not sick - I get sick when it flows in bigger amounts.
    • I had been examined - no allergies, frontal and nasal cavities are clear, empty.
  • I tend to imagine bad things happening and get sad with bad thoughts - now I realized that I tend to stop breathing, when this happens. Also this works around. Thinking bad things tends to shallow my breath and that leads to more thoughts.
    • I am glad that I at least realized this to happen and am now more focused on breathing immediately when I feel down.
  • I had a conversation with a friend who told me, that a doctor asked her, if she does not experience being slow in social situations, not being able to follow what is happening. On her answering yes, she told her, that it might be caused by her breathing too shallow, which lead to brain lacking oxygen and thus not working effeciently and fast enough.
    • This can be applied to me too.

I understand that I need to work on my breath, make it more deep, but this is a task I do not know how to execute - breathing is completely subconscious, unless you make it conscious and I do not think I am able to focus on breathing 24/7.

Is there anything that can be done to fix this condition? To teach subconscious to breath deeply in an uninterrupted manner on its own?

  • Is this related to exercise somehow? Since you're not dead, you're obviously not failing to breathe. Shallow breathing is doing its job for you. Are you not able to meet specific fitness goals due to breathing issues? – Kaz Dec 16 '14 at 1:16
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You could try setting a reminder every thirty minutes or so to take some time to practice taking slow deep breaths. Also if you catch yourself taking shallow breaths or not breathing, correct yourself.

You may not be able to focus on breathing all the time, but you can practice good habits to reinforce a healthy breathing pattern. This may help you improve over time.

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One way to learn to breathe deeper is to learn how to breathe differently on purpose: place one hand on the center of your chest and the other hand on your stomach, with your little finger touching your navel.

When lot of people who have shallow breaths take a breath, it only moves their top hand (a "chest breath,") which is fast, doesn't use very many muscles, but doesn't use the whole lung capacity. My boxing teacher called it "a good one to know but a bad one to rely on."

To take deeper, more relaxed and full breath, you want to keep your chest hand steady and take a breath that moves your lower hand, instead. This is called a "belly breath" and its a much fuller, stronger breath that moves a lot more oxygen since you're involving muscles from all over your trunk, especially on the exhale. This is how you want to do most of your breathing.

Once you've got the hang of switching from hand to hand at will, you might want to play with breaths that move both hands at once, called "bellows breaths." This is great for stress relief, recovering from getting the wind knocked out of you, and catching your breath when "winded," but it's also quite easy to get light-headed from it, as well.

As someone who spends a lot of time on computers, a large part of my learning to breathe better was working on fixing my posture, as well. I suffered from a staggering amount of hip tightness that was making it hard for me to move well enough to breathe when I was sitting down. More help on this available at http://kaasplateau.com/stretches.pdf

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