Correct breathing techniques and practices are an incredibly important part of maintaining and improving circulation. Unless you have been through specialist breathing courses, such as the Buteyko program or practiced shallow breathing, there is a good chance that you are breathing far too much, perhaps enough for 4 – 6 people. That means that a huge percentage of us are walking around each day essentially hyperventilating the entire time.
Hyperventilation and Circulation
You may be wondering what the connection between poor circulation and over breathing is. Poor circulation is actually only one of the side effects from hyperventilating. Excessive breathing causes carbon dioxide levels in your blood to drop and maintain a low level. We actually want to maintain a high level of carbon dioxide in the blood. When our carbon dioxide levels rise, our body gets the message to breath again. So when you feel like taking that breath, it’s not because you’re out of oxygen, but because your body is not used to the carbon dioxide levels being so high. This causes us to breath more, which in turn causes a lot of problems, including a much higher pulse and increased blood pressure.
It stands to reason that in order to lower our pulse and blood pressure, we should increase the levels of carbon dioxide in our blood so that our body is comfortable with those levels naturally, meaning that we don’t need to breath as often or as much.
Breathing Exercises To Improve Circulation
In general here are some tips to improve your breathing, lower your pulse and blood pressure and improve your circulation:
- Breath in and out through your mouth. Even when exercising or singing. It will likely be uncomfortable at first, but after a while you will get used to it. When you breath out through your mouth, you expel air very quickly you will find you need to breath more to make up for it.
- Breath into your stomach. Actually, focus on the point right at the bottom of your torso and breath into that point. Don’t breath into your chest and shoulders.
- Try to get a regular breathing pattern throughout the day.
- Place tape over your mouth when you sleep. If you have any sort of snoring problem or you start breathing through your mouth at night, you are undoing all of your good work from the day. Tape over the mouth at night will carry your training through and adjust your breathing 24 hours a day.
- Try not to whistle and don’t smoke. Whistling is letting huge amount of air and CO2 escape while smoking (in itself a huge factor in poor circulation) will damage the lungs and make shallow breathing more difficult.
- Limit dairy products, especially before bed. It’s common to drink a warm glass of milk before bed to help get to sleep. The opposite is actually true. It will cause you to breath more while sleeping.
Here are some exercises:
Start by breathing in through your nose for two seconds and out for four and start to find a regular pattern. Sit upright on a chair or stand up. Try not to slouch over so keep a straight back. Gradually lower the amount of breath you are taking in and practice this shallow breathing for around half an hour a day. Eventually you should be able to breath, not by ‘pulling’ the air in, but simply by moving the muscles in the pit of the stomach. When performed well, you should be able to put your finger under your nose and not be able to feel any air movement whatsoever. You may feel like yawning at times. This is very normal when performing these shallow breathing exercises. You may also feel as though you’re not getting enough air. Again, this is normal as you are raising the regular levels of CO2 in the blood and your body is not used to it. Don’t worry, your body will adjust.
You will likely find that after performing this half hour shallow breathing exercise, both your blood pressure and pulse will be lower than before. Over time, this will lower further and further, as can cholesterol and a host of other conditions associated with poor circulation. Certainly, changing your breathing habits is a fantastic way to improve circulation. Make sure that you couple this with a good diet and get plenty of exercise.