What happens when you breathe? When you inhale, the air passes via your nose or mouth through your bronchioles to the bases of your lungs. The tiny sacs deep in your lungs are called alveoli. Here the oxygen is transported into your bloodstream and carbon dioxide is passed into the alveoli so it can be eliminated when you exhale. Surprisingly perhaps, according to respiratory consultant Dr Richard Russell, “Plenty of people are poor breathers.” Smoking, lack of exercise, excessive talking and stress can all negatively impact your breathing.

Watch a baby breathe. They breathe from their abdomens. As people become stressed, they start to hyperventilate, taking shallow breaths. This does not facilitate the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange that takes place in the deep regions of the lungs. Signs of hyperventilating or over breathing are; mouth breathing, taking deep breaths before talking, breathing loudly at rest and breathing into your upper chest rather than your belly.

To correct this bad breathing habit, you must learn to breathe into your diaphragm, a sheet of muscle below your lungs. Try placing one hand on your abdomen and one on your chest. As you breathe in through your nose, ensure that the hand on your belly is the one moving. Forms of exercise like Yoga and Pilates can help retrain your breathing. Mindfulness and meditation can also help facilitate a focus on gentle, deep breathing.