The Breathing Assessment Questionnaire

This assessment will require you to notice what you are feeling as well as observe what is happening in front of a mirror. It is important to make sure that you NEVER STRAIN when trying to take a deep breath.

In front of a mirror, with a bare chest or a sports top, take the longest, deepest and best quality breath that you can comfortably take. Do this a few times before you assess it.

  • Did you breathe in through your nose or mouth?
  • Did you breathe out through your nose or mouth?
  • If mouth on either occasion, is this how you normally breathe throughout the day, or only when you take a deep breath?

For the rest of the assessment, breathe in with your nose only. Keep your mouth completely closed. We will firstly assess the inhalation. Draw your best breath in through the nose only for as long as you comfortably can:

  • Did the upper chest move at all?
    If so, was it predominately or only a little?
  • Did your chest feel like it tightened up while you breathed in?
  • Did you lift your shoulders up as you breathed in?
  • Did your whole torso seem to lift as well?
  • Did your abdominal area expand?
  • Did both your abdominal and chest area expand? If so, one at a time, or both together?

Inhaling again, observe the quality and sound of the breath:

  • Was your inhale: short, erratic, fragile?
  • Was your inhale strong and powerful or soft or weak?
  • Did you breathe in with what seemed like great urgency, or did you take your time?
  • Did you gasp or struggle to breathe in, or was it easy?
  • Did you feel like you could have breathed in more, but somehow felt stuck at a certain point?

How did it sound: quiet, weak, soft, smooth, erratic, strong, powerful or anything else?
Now repeat the same procedure for the exhalation. Breathe out of your nose (with your mouth closed) aiming for the best quality exhalation you can manage for as long as you comfortably can.

  • Did your upper chest drop as you breathed out?
  • If so, was it from the start, middle or end of the breath?
  • Did your chest drop a lot or only a little?
  • Did your abdominal area move inwards or outwards?
  • Did you move only the abdominal area, or was it with the upper chest as well?
  • If so, which part moved first?
    Which part did the most moving?
  • Did you hunch over and roll your shoulders forward?
    If so, from the start, middle or end?

Once again, breathing out your best and longest breath through your nose only, carefully observe the quality and sound.

  • Was your exhale: short, erratic, fragile?
  • Was your exhale strong and powerful, or soft or weak?
  • Did you expel the breath with what seemed like great urgency, or did you take your time?
  • Did you struggle and force the breath out, or was it easy?
  • Do you feel like you could have breathed out more, but somehow felt unable to continue?
  • How did it sound: quiet, weak, soft, smooth, erratic, strong, powerful or anything else?

To complete the assessment, you will now evaluate both the inhalation and exhalation as one. With your mouth closed, breathe in and out of your nose a few times. Once again, breathe for as long as you comfortably can, making it your best quality breath. Remember not to strain.

  • Which part/s moves the most: upper chest, shoulders, ribcage, abdomen?
  • What part/s moves first?
  • What part/s moves last?
  • Is there a big difference in duration between your inhale and exhale? If so, which is shorter?
  • Is there a big difference in the quality between the two?
  • Which breath sounds weaker?
  • Which do you feel more comfortable with and why?

After doing this assessment, take a moment to think of what you felt and observed. Now reflect on the times in your life that your breathing stopped you from participating in certain activities that you really wanted to do.

Write down what you feel your particular problems are. For example, it could be that:

  • You overwork your upper chest
  • You do not have a flexible lower ribcage
  • When stressed you hold your breath, or it becomes shallow

Write the main reasons why you want to improve your breathing, and the goals you would like to achieve by learning different breathing techniques.

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