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Why are breathing exercises important?

Are you breathing “properly”? What does proper breathing even mean? Continue reading if you’d like these questions answered…

Written by: Amanda Melaram, CAT(C)

Our diaphragm is the main respiratory muscle and  the internal and external intercostals act as secondary muscles during respiration. There are multiple types of breathing: diaphragmatic breathing, chest breathing, frozen breathing and collapsed breathing to name a few. Optimal breathing undoubtedly comes from the diaphragm. However, most people are chest breathers without even knowing — they use their accessory muscles to breathe which leads to their whole chest coming up and tightening all the musculature. This creates great tension in the neck and can cause future problems. When breathing correctly (i.e. diaphragm breathing), our head, shoulders and neck should be relaxed. The diaphragm will expand on inhalation and relax on exhalation.  


Many factors can influence how we breathe, such as stress and posture. Breathing exercises are simple to do and learn and require no equipment. Practicing abdominal breathing will in turn create a more efficient gas exchange, oxygen consumption, and better ventilation. Deep breathing will also decrease stress levels, which helps our body get out of the fight-or-flight response, by sending signals to the brain to relax the body. The following videos are excellent to do at the beginning of the day as well as at the end of the day. Additionally, they are great to integrate into your yoga routine.

Here are some easy breathing exercises you can do right now!

As you follow along with the videos, you will encounter multiple patterns of breathing. These are founded on a yoga technique, namely pranayama, which helps to actively control our breathing. There are three main components of this technique:

  1. Inhalation through the nostrils
  2. Retention
  3. Exhalation

The goal of “boxed breathing” is to reset your breath rhythm and to clear the mind and calm the body. Benefits include a reduction in anxiety, depression, stress, and an increase in a positive mindset. Research has shown that taking the time out of your day to practice these techniques will greatly impact one’s health, physically and mentally (1). Breathing isn’t something we think to do, it happens naturally and subconsciously. But by being actively aware of how we breathe and consciously practicing correct patterns, a positive change in the body will undeniably occur.

If you would like more exercises to incorporate into your daily yoga routine or if you have any questions concerning your breathing, reach out to an Athletic Therapist.


Ma, Xiao et al. “The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults.” Frontiers in psychology vol. 8 874. 6 Jun. 2017, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00874

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

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