As babies we instinctively know how to breathe using the diaphragm, with the tummy moving up and down with each breath. For the most part, the breathing volume matches the exact needs of the metabolism; this is how the human body was intended to function and results in good health.
Parents strive to protect their children, yet by becoming over-protective they often contribute to problems for their offspring later in life. Parents habitually tend to over-dress young children and live in rooms that are too warm or too stuffy, while the children can also be exposed to an unsuitable diet which includes too much sugar and too many sweets, chocolates and ﬁzzy drinks to which they soon become accustomed. It is then a simple progression along a slippery slope to a diet high in junk food, artiﬁcial additives and sweeteners, sometimes before a child even starts school.
Children are often advised by many sources to ‘take a deep breath’. However, in this situation the word ‘deep’ is used in the wrong context and a deep breath in this case is actually a ‘big’ breath – ﬁlling the lungs but not using the diaphragm. So what are the necessary steps to break this habit?
✦ Step One
Acknowledge the bad habit – in this case overbreathing – and the reason why it is a bad habit. It is at this stage that the correct method of breathing is learned as well as the various ways of redressing the incorrect approach to breathing.
✦ Step Two
Often it is not until the breathing pattern has been corrected that it comes to light that it was incorrect in the ﬁrst place. Therefore the solution lies in detecting the problem before it has even occurred. This pattern of detection and correction, caused by slipping back into bad habits, may continue for some time. Eventually, perhaps after much trial and error, becoming aware of the breathing pattern at an earlier stage can prevent overbreathing.
Psychologists claim that, with the correct attention and discipline, a bad habit can be broken and a new and better habit instilled in just 21 days. However, when it comes to learning a new way of breathing a little more time is required as the body becomes accustomed to a fundamental change in something as basic and essential as breathing. In reality, the time it takes is insigniﬁcant when compared with the beneﬁts accruing from correct breathing.
✦ Step Three
With both time and effort good breathing should become routine, after all practice makes perfect. Eventually the good habit becomes like second nature and requires no conscious effort. Sticking to the better breathing routine will then require only intermittent attention to conﬁrm the breathing is correct. The effort and discipline committed to learning this method of breathing will now pay off; this is a time to feel good.