My burn-out
My burn-out

Learning how to breathe

Learning how to breathe

Learning how to breathe is a real job that requires some training. It is the basis of our vital functions and just as much the basis of Sophrology.

Today, people don’t know how to breathe any more. Of course, breathing is a natural reflex, but under the effect of time, stress and more generally the constraints of life, it changes and no longer meets fully our physiological and psychological needs.

However, learning or relearning to breathe properly can cure many ailments. Breathing is the only automatic function of our body on which we can act voluntarily by speeding it up or slowing it down, by making it short or deeper …

This is why, when we are stressed out, anxious, nervous, exhausted, tired, impatient, deep breathing is such an amazing tool!

Why can’t we breathe properly?

Our breathing changes when we are stressed out or when we experience strong emotions like anger or jealousy. All these vagaries of life make our breathing higher, more thoracic and therefore more shallow, which leads to less oxygenation of our body but also to a general feeling of discomfort.

To improve this, it is important to relearn how to breathe well. By regaining deep or abdominal breathing, you will be able to better control your emotions, restore peace and quiet in your mind and therefore better manage stress.

Number of respiratory cycles

 What are the benefits of breathing well?

Breathing does not only imply inhaling and exhaling air along a well-established routine. Breathing is multiple and fulfills several functions. It reflects the emotional state we are in. Learning to breathe abdominally or deeply allows us to:

  • Live
  • Increase oxygen in the blood
  • Speak or communicate serenely
  • Improve sleep
  • Get energized or relaxed
  • Manage stress and anxiety
  • Respond to a stressful situation where we need to act
  • Manage and reduce pain
  • Gain confidence
  • Manage our emotions
  • Improve our concentration
  • Improve our digestion
  • Regulate our blood sugar level
  • Eliminate waste in our body such as carbon dioxide
  • Balance our nervous system

We tend to forget that the power of breathing and the benefits of deep abdominal breathing on our well-being, if only for a few minutes a day, are numerous. There are many exercises out there and it’s up to you to try them out and see which ones you like best. Once again, the goal is not to turn your habits and your lives upside down, but to introduce just a few minutes of these breathing exercises into your daily life.

Quickly you will be able to see the benefits of such a routine on your health, your sleep, your level of stress.

How do you learn to breathe?

There are different ways to incorporate deep breathing into our lives. Sophrology of course, but also many other practices such as yoga and meditation. By learning these techniques you can quickly and easily include them in your day, either when going to work, or a few minutes during the day or still in the evening to help you fall asleep.

Some tips for breathing well

Good breathing is quite slow with an average of ten cycles per minute.

Breathing well does not mean filling up to the utmost with oxygen but working on rhythms and favouring exhalation. Indeed, practicing long breaths can quickly bring calm and reduce stress levels.

Abdominal breathing activates the diaphragm, a muscle between the lower rib cage and the abdomen, which works somewhat like a piston. When we inhale, it goes down into the belly to leave more room for the lungs and the rib cage widens. On exhalation, the diaphragm rises. In this way, we are using the full capacity of our lungs and not just the upper part of the lungs which gives only shallow breathing.

Learn to breathe

When we are not used to paying attention to our breathing it is difficult to know if what we are doing is right or not.

Here is the routine I suggest to observe your breathing.

  • Make yourself comfortable and uncross your legs,
  • Put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest
  • You can close your eyes to be more attentive to the sensations
  • Start breathing without changing anything
  • Does the belly move? Does the chest move?
  • Just watch your normal breathing without forcing anything
  • Then little by little try to breathe through your belly
  • On inspiration, your belly swells
  • On exhalation, your belly deflates

Respect your limits, if it takes too much effort from you, do not try to force it, you will see that you will gradually manage to do it.

What are the consequences of shallow breathing?

Shallow breathing is often synonymous with hyperventilation. That is, the breathing is rapid and it mobilizes only the top of the lungs.

This causes an imbalance in the oxygen / carbon dioxide ratio in the body, which disrupts the chemical balance of the body, changes the pH of the blood and, paradoxically, brings less oxygen to the cells which are supposed to keep your body in good working order. This imbalance then causes many symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, headaches, digestive disorders, disturbed sleep …

Véronique About


An entrepreneur and sophrologist, I graduated from CEAS in Paris and from the Sophrology Academy in Ashford, which is a member of FEPS (the Federation of Sophrology Centers), I specialized in issues of stress and burn-out. Do not hesitate to contact me, for any questions or request for support in sophrology.