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How To Breathe Properly

Most of us are shallow “chest breathers." Learn about proper breathing and how it can help you.

By
Lisa B. Marshall,
August 8, 2008

Page 1 of 2

Yesterday, my heart was racing, my voice was quivering, and I was actually struggling to breathe. Obviously, I was nervous, and I had to remind myself, "Lisa, breathe!" No, I wasn't skydiving, I was about to deliver a presentation to 300 doctors. Of course, I was breathing; the problem was that I wasn't breathing properly.


So today's lesson is a seemingly simple lesson. Breathing.

Why Focus on Breathing?

Why focus on breathing? Because healthy, deep breathing improves your ability to be effective whenever you are facing a particular stressful situation ... it’s different for everyone. You might need this before delivering presentations (like me), or when you are about to deliver bad news, or perhaps when you need to ask for something important, like asking for a raise or asking your honey to turn off the game.

What Does Deep Breathing Do?

Deep breathing helps relieve nervous energy, it helps develop a strong voice and I think it helps to strengthen personal intensity. It is important for our energy, our focus, and our concentration. And, as leaders, our energy is subtly monitored and mirrored by those around us. Healthy deep breathing helps you to generate excitement in yourself and others!

Deep breathing helps relieve nervous energy, it helps develop a strong voice and I think it helps to strengthen personal intensity. Healthy deep breathing helps you to generate excitement in yourself and others!

Think about it, the word "inspire" literally means to draw in air--or breathe. So, for me, deep breathing is a critical speaking skill that should be included in everyone's tool belt!

What's Wrong With Chest Breathing?

Unfortunately, most of us breathe with our shoulders. We're shallow "chest breathers"--stomach goes in and shoulders go up, and that's not the healthy kind of breathing I'm talking about.

Kids Breathe Deeply for Fun

But everyone is capable of healthy, deep breathing. You've done it. You breathed correctly whenever you've wanted a lot of air. Remember when you were a kid--just before you swam the length of the pool underwater and you took that huge gulp of air (you did it then), or maybe it was when you played the "who can hold their breath longest” game (you did it then).

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