Is it or isn't it the right way to breathe?
Watching a newborn or a pre-one-year-old baby breathe is often peaceful, but not as informative as many have believed. There is a crossover point where what might be helpful is now a hindrance or distortion.
Pointing to the belly - how it rises and falls, we usually deduce that. Since the baby breathes that way, we assume it is the right way for adults to breathe as well, which is not true.
The baby belly breath is simply a beginning, not the whole picture by any stretch of the imagination. It is perhaps 30-40% of an optimal breath. The lungs do not fill from the bottom up. They fill just like a balloon does.
All at once, depending on factors related below.The baby's belly rises so much because:
- There has been little development by that time of the lungs and breathing sequencing during standing in gravity. The baby closes its throat so that it can breathe and suckle at the same time. This ability fades as it grows older and sits up more. It reduces the flow of air and forces more attention in the abdominal area. Breathing is harder this way.
- The stomach has replaced the umbilicus now with solid food, and it invites some fat accumulation and bulking of the belly giving a visual impression of excessively implied importance.
- There is a minimum of chest expansion because the lungs have not gotten large enough to need more space.
- Balanced integrated breathing has not developed, and the belly, mid-chest, sides, back, and abdomen is still to develop.
- The mid-back above the kidney area has the larger lung volume but when the baby is on its back there simply is nowhere else for the baby to be able to breathe but into the belly area.
- The soft tissue of the frontal belly area is the path of least resistance, so the majority of visual emphasis is in that area. Being on the back is better than the side or stomach as it allows the rib cage to raise and that allows the diaphragm to rise for a deeper easier inhalation and the baby, or people for that matter, breathe easily.
So What is The Right Way to Breathe?
Ideally, standing straight up with arms raised, or swimming the breaststroke or side armed-back stroke are two of the best ways (with exceptions) to get the easiest lung volume while moving the body.Neither of which are readily available to the crawling baby.
See more about this in our DVD1 in the Mastery Kit.
The back breath is critical to optimal breathing. Posture-wise, the baby has not been upright much at all, and its body feels compression in the areas it is lying on; like the back. After all, it has just spent the last several months or its intrauterine life in a bent forward position.
Try bending forward and taking a deep breath and you will soon see that bending over restricts the breath quite a bit.
Does this imply that the baby should breathe into the upper chest?
Not yet unless it is well coordinated and there is enough 360-degree belly breath as a foundation. More about that in our Breathing Fundamentals Development Video and Building Healthy Lungs combination.
Does this imply that the baby should breathe into the upper chest? Nope. Not yet unless it is well coordinated and there is enough 360 degree belly breath as a foundation. More about that in our Breathing Fundamentals Development Video and Building Healthy Lungs combination.
Believe it or not, you don't really want to sleep like a baby. Why? Babies' sleep, especially in the early months, is typically full of interruptions because their sleep cycles are much shorter than an adult's. It takes time for these cycles to lengthen and for your baby to learn how to fall back to sleep on his own if he wakes up in the middle of the night. To find out more about how your baby sleeps, take this quiz - what you don't know might surprise you.
To summarize, the classic baby breath example most often involves under developed lungs which makes it not a very good example or at least a very limited one and is only during quiet breathing anyway.
Most breathing issues involve an abnormal percentage of high chest breathing that occurs more often during activity (making it harder to track) and increased oxygen needs, including more severe aspects of hyperventilation, asthma, most bronchitis and many forms of COPD. They breathe deeper and in the effort of that they cough, gasp or wheeze even more. That encourages shallow breathing and the cycle repeats itself.
Essentially non activity oriented forms such bronchitis, emphysema and COPD stem from BOTH mechanical and toxemia/chemistry aspects, the variations of issues related to air quality, diet, stress, smoking history and lifestyles. Both mechanics AND chemistry need be addressed to achieve optimal breathing.