Why do people have shallow breathing?

Pam Grout
Alternative & Complementary Medicine

There are many reasons people shut down their breathing. Your reason is as unique to you as your breathprint. Some of the more popular reasons:

  • Cultural conditioning: From the time we were able to wobble around on two legs, we were trained to stand with our shoulders back, our chests out. And while such military poses are terrific at impressing obnoxious drill sergeants, they do nothing to promote good breathing. Full breathers stick out their guts and go for it. Such cultural uniforms as mini-skirts, stretch pants, and other tight clothes are another deterrent to breathing with gusto.
  • Emotional repression: A lot of us quit breathing fully because we didn't want to feel our feelings. We held our breath to hide from a lot of things we were taught not to do - like get angry, cry in public, or scream at our parents. The only problem is that while holding our breath and breathing shallowly can effectively shut down our feelings, it can't get rid of them. They just get locked somewhere in the muscles of our bodies.
  • Trauma: Whenever we experience a threat to our well-being, we immediately generate energy to meet the threat. Our hearts beat faster and we prepare to "take flight."
  • Physical problems: Just check with your local lung specialist for the long list of illnesses that affect breathing.
  • Birth: You're comfortably ensconced in your mother's womb. The environment is cozy - perfect temperature, plenty of food, no chance of sunburn, the music of your mother's heartbeat a constant comfort - and then wham! One day, you're pushed violently out into a room of bright lights, loud voices, and nurses wearing weird surgical masks. It's enough to take anyone's breath away. A t least it's not a very reassuring way to prompt your first breath. Studies have shown that babies who were born the LeBoyer way have less restricted breathing patterns and consequently healthier, more vibrant lives.
  • Smoking: Breathing affects your respiratory, cardiovascular, neurological, gastrointestinal, muscular and psychic systems and also has a general effect on your sleep, your memory, your energy level, and your concentration.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.