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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Breathing

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Breathing

All of us know that breathing is one of the most vital functions of the human body. We need to constantly oxygenate and detoxify the body by furnishing it with fresh oxygen yet, there are certain proprieties.

Deep breathing exercises help in increasing lifespan and play a key role in improving our overall health. Most of us bring much harm upon ourselves by employing the wrong breathing technique, which is often referred to as “shallow breathing”.

Deep breathing also goes by the names of diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, belly breathing, and paced respiration. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises.

Sometimes it may feel unnatural. However, the benefits are myriad and with a little bit of care and practice, you can enjoy all the health benefits, which it renders. Read this article to find all the health benefits of deep breathing. 

Health Benefits Of Deep Breathing

Health Benefits Of Deep Breathing
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  • Deep breathing helps one to have relaxed bowel movements. If this method is practiced regularly every day, one may have free bowel movements and all the waste will be flushed out without any uneasiness. This technique will also help in easing conditions like constipation.
  • Deep breathing can help you to get rid of stress and anxiety. If you are feeling stressed, your breathing is fast and short. To overcome stress and to make yourself calm and relaxed, you should breathe deeply and slowly. This is one of the most important benefits of deep breathing.
  • It is extremely beneficial to the lymphatic system.
  • Your body is designed to release most of its toxins through breathing. If you don’t breathe properly, you won’t be able to get rid of these toxins. Deep breathing detoxifies the whole body and removes the impurities present in the blood.
  • It also aids in normalizing blood pressure. High blood pressure can be absolutely fatal. Therefore, people with high blood pressure should practice the techniques of deep breathing to keep such hazards away.
  • Deep breathing fortifies weak abdominal and intestinal muscles.
  • People with nervous weakness can greatly benefit from deep breathing techniques. Nervous weakness impedes speech and deep breathing can help in overcoming this weakness.
  • Deep breathing helps in increasing metabolism. Breathing strengthens the immune system. Oxygen travels through your bloodstream by being attached to hemoglobin in your red blood cells. This, in turn, enriches your body to metabolize nutrients and vitamins.
  • In children, deep breathing can help improve mental ability, boost their ability to think faster, and also assist in improving the level of concentration.
  • It stimulates hormones in the body, which makes the body feel relaxed all through the day. It also alleviates muscle and joint pain.
  • It increases the level of oxygen in the body. So, there is an equal supply of oxygen to all the organs of the body.
  • Deep breathing helps in the revitalization of the endocrine glands, principally the pituitary and pineal glands.
  • This exercise allows the body to take in more oxygen and discharge more carbon dioxide. This leads to many health benefits such as slowing of heart rate and relaxation of the muscles.
  • Breathing exercises reduce the workload on the heart in two different ways. Firstly, they ensure that more oxygen is brought in contact with blood, which is sent to the lungs by the heart. So, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Secondly, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the lungs, which increases the circulation, thus giving the heart a little rest.
  • When exercising too fast or too slow, the body doesn’t receive sufficient oxygen and burns glycogen instead of fat. Deep breathing reinforces the cardiovascular system so that one is able to work out aerobically and ably burn fat.
  • Deep breathing improves the quality of the blood.
  • It also helps to break down food, increases digestion and assimilation of food.
  • It also improves cellular regeneration.
  • Deep breathing helps to control weight by using the extra supply of oxygen to help burn stored fat.
  • Deep breathing releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers. You can overcome headaches, sleeplessness, backaches, and other stress-related aches and pains with deep breathing.
  • It helps you to keep better focus when you are feeling overwhelmed. In addition, it helps to clear your mind.
  • Breathing improves your nervous system. The brain, spinal cord, and nerves receive increased oxygenation and hence are more nourished. As the nervous system communicates to all parts of the body, it improves the health of the entire body. 

Try to make deep breathing your habit. It is something you can do at any time and almost anywhere. Do it while driving, especially in heavy traffic. It will make you feel relaxed. You can do it while sitting at your desk working or in any stressful situation to calm yourself down. Do it at night before going to bed, you will have much better sleep.

Breathing Exercises For Anxiety

Breathing Exercises For Anxiety
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What causes stress in your life? Is it an inconvenience in your life or your responsibilities that make your life stressful? Whatever it may be, you need to overcome your stress and lead a peaceful life so that life means a lot more to you than just mere existence. Stress makes your life a living hell, it takes out all the happiness from you as you lose control over your thoughts and emotions.

In the competitive world with a more competitive life, it may be difficult to root out the actual cause of your stress and anxiety. However, you can control your mind and emotions and keep stress to a minimal level if you know-how. Exercise is the best way to deal with tension. There are various exercises in this line but breathing exercises are the most effective method to reduce tension, strain, and anxiety. Here are some breathing exercises that can help you reduce your tension and live a better life. Read on!

Chinese Holistic Exercises

This exercise can be done sitting, standing, or lying down, according to your convenience. However, the most preferred position is sitting though.

  • Sit straight, keeping your backbone erect. You should keep your hands comfortably resting either on your lap or thighs. Now, look ahead and close your eyes slowly.
  • Inhale indicates taking in fresh air deep into your lungs through nose and exhale implies breathing out through your mouth.
  • Touch the palate with the tip of your tongue, just behind the upper teeth and maintain that position throughout the exercise.
  • Now, start inhaling slowly to a count of four seconds.  Stop inhaling when you reach the maximum holding capacity of your lungs (vital capacity). Hold the inhaled air in your lungs for about seven seconds and start exhaling it slowly, taking about eight seconds to give out all the air in your lungs.
  • Pause for 4-5 seconds and then proceed toward the next round of inhalation. This pause between two successive breaths is very therapeutic. Repeat this exercise for about 10-2 times to start with. You may increase it up to 25-30 when you proceed. You may do this exercise whenever you feel tensed or stressed out.
  • This exercise helps calm your mind and regulates your breathing. It has significant effect in toning nervous system and balancing emotions.
  • You can do this exercise wherever you want-just need to be a calm place so that you can concentrate.
  • Stop if you feel that you lost your breath. Pause for a while and then proceed.
  • You may listen to soothing music or instrument if you want to.

Simple Abdominal Breathing Exercise for Relaxation

This exercise is to be performed sitting, but you may do it lying down or standing as well. You need to be comfortable while doing this exercise. A calm atmosphere with nothing to distract your attention is preferred.

  • Start by inhaling deeply, filling your lungs fully.  Relax your shoulders and expand your abdomen, making sure that your chest does not rise. Inhaling should be slow and steady.
  • Exhale slowly through the mouth taking about double the time you took to inhale.  Purse your lips slightly so that you hear a whooshing sound as you exhale, but keep your jaws relaxed.
  • Repeat this exercise several times, 10-20 times to start with. You may increase the number as you proceed.

Caution: If you feel that your anxiety is increasing when you do this exercise, then stop doing this. This may be due to some panic disorder that adds to your present condition. If that is the case, then you may take a rest for some time and try this exercise again.

Stress Relief Exercises

This exercise not only relieves tension but also cleanses your lungs and increases your energy levels. To do this exercise, you should lie down on a smooth, flat surface. You may tuck pillows under your neck and knees if you want. 

  • Place your hands down on your stomach, on the base of your rib cage so that the middle fingers just touch each other.
  • Take a deep breath so that your lungs are filled up, gradually moving the middle fingers apart at the same time. Make sure that you fill your lungs to their maximum capacity (vital capacity) and then exhale slowly.
  • Repeat this exercise several times a day or whenever you feel tense. 

Humming Exercises

  • This is an excellent breathing exercise to control your emotions and feel relaxed.
  • Sit straight, hold your backbone in an erect position, and exhale out the air in your lungs. Relax your muscle in the meantime.
  • Start taking in air filling your lungs to their maximum capacity and hold the breath for some time. Exhale it with a humming sound and try to sustain this sound as long as possible. You may feel the resonance of this sound in your brain for some time. You may substitute the hum sound with ‘Om’ if you want.

Breathing Exercises For Anxiety

  • Stand keeping your feet wide apart and concentrate on breathing.
  • Inhale deeply, raising your hands above the head with palms upward position.
  • Hold the breath for some time and keep the hands in this position till you hold your breath.
  • Breathe out slowly and bring down your hands to the original position. Repeat this exercise several times.

Yoga Breathing Exercises

This is an exercise commonly performed during yoga. You need to sit comfortably to perform this exercise.

  • Now, bring your right hand to your nose.
  • Place your ring finger and small finger on the left nostril and thumb on the right nostril. Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale slowly through the left nostril counting up to four.
  • Close the left nostril using the ring finger and little finger and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Now do the vice versa. Repeat this exercise many times and anxiety will disappear. 

Mentioned above were some important breathing exercises that can effectively change your stress-filled life to a happy one. Practice them regularly for a better mindset with proper control over your thoughts and emotions.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Deep Breathing Exercises
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Human beings have been aware of the benefits of deep breathing for a long time now. Ancient meditation techniques have involved deep breathing and written records of its benefits can be found in historical texts and inscriptions.

The technique actually involves a few deep breaths that help relax the body, but the benefits of these exercises belie their simplicity. More often than not, a correction in your manner of breathing can change a lot in your life. The stress of daily life is one such thing that you can do without.

Committing yourself to deep breathing exercises will be worthwhile even if it is only for the removal of stress alone. But then, that is only the tip of the iceberg. You could start with a few of these exercises, which can be easily practiced sans any expert help. 

Exercise # 1

  • Make yourself comfortable in a position either lying on your back or sitting. If you choose to sit, make sure that your back is straight. In addition, see to it that you are not tensed up and allow your shoulders to fall.
  • Close your eyes to allow for better concentration.
  • Place one of your hands on your stomach and the other on your chest.
  • Take a few breaths at your normal pace. Check your breathing technique by monitoring the rise and fall of the diaphragm. The ideal breathing technique is when the diaphragm pushes out when you inhale and pull inward when you exhale.
  • If your technique appears fine, continue taking deep breaths concentrating on the movement of the diaphragm. If your breathing is flawed, make sure you correct it, as mentioned above, by concentrating on the movement of the diaphragm.
  • Allow the belly to rise and fall when you breathe in and breathe out. Concentrate on nothing but the movement of your belly.
  • Continue this exercise as long as you like. 

Exercise # 2

The following is an exercise that is a part of many yoga practices.

  • Seat yourself in a comfortable position.
  • With your mouth closed, breathe in and out through your nose as fast as possible.
  • Try, as much as possible, to inhale and exhale equally.
  • Continue this exercise for 15 seconds.
  • With greater practice, you can increase the time of the exercise to a minute.
  • Note that you should not attempt the technique for  1 minute period right in the beginning. 

Exercise # 3

This is another yoga technique that will help you overcome stress. It will also help you to address sleep issues.

  • Seat yourself in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
  • With the mouth closed, exhale deeply through your nose.
  • Push the breath out of the chest and move downwards, finishing with the diaphragm.
  • Once you have exhausted your breath, pause for two seconds.
  • Then, inhale through your nose filling the air first in the diaphragm and then moving upwards to the chest.
  • Once you have inhaled to the limit, pause for two seconds.
  • Repeat the process about 5 to 10 times. 

Exercise # 4

Deep breathing exercises work best when they are combined with other physical exercises. You can choose to do any form of physical exercise, but walking is the easiest and the most frequently coupled exercise. You can combine both these exercises at any time during the day. In this technique, the focus, as expected, is on the breathing pattern. You can push yourself further by coupling aerobic activities with breathing. If you feel drained out, rest for a minute or two and then continue. 

Exercise # 5

Deep breathing exercises can also be carried out in a standing position. This is especially useful because they can be done at any time during the day. For example, while standing in a queue at a supermarket, cooking, or just lazing around. 

These simple yet effective breathing techniques will not only fortify your immunity, but will also help you beat stress and lethargy, and perk up your mood.

Breathing Exercises For Running

Breathing Exercises For Running
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Experts have pointed out that “good breathing is far more important than stretching before running.” One of the most essential processes in human life, breathing calms your mind, affects the quality of health and peaks your physical performance.

You can go on with your normal chores without food or water, but not without oxygen. A lot of restorative arts like qigong, reiki, and yoga consider breathing as a central part of their exercise. By practicing breathing in a way that establishes your physical strength and well-being, you improve your abilities and the class of your overall experience.

Doing any kind of physical activity requires excellent stamina and the health of the lungs, heart, and strength of the bones directly contribute towards this. Through breathing exercises, you can fortify your lung health. Breathing exercises form an important position in the exercise routine of athletes. One should dedicate at least one hour to such exercises for boosting their endurance level.

Keeping the fitness factor aside, breathing exercises also have a soothing effect on your mind. Read on to know about the various breathing exercises and the way it must be done. 

Importance Of Breathing Exercises

  • Breathing exercises form an excellent treatment to cure respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma.
  • Breathing exercises increase the oxygen rate, which is taken up by our lungs.
  • The supply of nutrients and blood to muscles and bones and to the body is significantly improved through breathing.
  • It enhances your metabolic power, generates more energy, strengthens your muscular strength, stretches ability, and improves concentration.

Deep Breathing Exercises

Most of the runners make use of the upper thirds of the capacity of their lungs. However, diaphragmatic breathing, which helps to fill the lower portion of the lungs, enhances the aerobic capacity of the runner. It also reduces stress and minimizes the risk of cramping while running. These deep breathing exercises should be performed prior to running or while running.

However, depending upon the time when they are performed, there will be a slight variation in the technique. If it is taken prior to running, you need to take a deep breath through the nose and hold it for five counts. Then, you can slowly release the breath through the mouth. While running, simply take breathe for five counts after which you can breathe out through the nose. 

Plenty of deep breathing exercises are available which benefits the runners the most. Have a look at these techniques. 

Breathe Stimulation

  • Sit down on the floor and keep your legs crossed.
  • Keep the mouth closed, as you need to breathe through the nose.
  • Inhale the air deeply through the nose.
  • Hold your breath for 5-8 seconds.
  • Breathe out the air and continue breathing in the same fashion for five minutes. 

Relaxing Breath

  • Sit down on the floor by keeping your back in a straight line.
  • Sway your tongue to create a fold.
  • Open your mouth a little and breathe in so that the air passes by the side of the ridge.
  • Ensure not to breathe through your nose.
  • Hold your breath and count up till 7.
  • Release your breath after you finish counting 8. 

Cadenced Breathing

This exercise is an excellent way to coordinate your breathing patterns with the running movements. This is used by elite runners to ensure a rhythm to their running. Most of the elite athletes use two steps per inhale and two steps per exhale. Once the race ends, they will switch on to two counts inhales and one count exhale. However, this breathing pattern makes the novice runners a bit light-headed. If this happens, you can switch on to three-count inhale and three counts exhale. 

Cleansing Breath

Waking up with a congested feeling might cause you discomfort. A cleansing breath can open the sinuses and clear the congestion. You can use the two middle fingers of the left hand to close the right nostril and take breathe for four counts using the left nostril. After this, you can close the nostril using the thumbs. You can hold breathe for four counts after which you can release the fingers from the right nostril and breathe out for eight counts.  Repeat the process on your right nostrils after which you will be able to blow your nose. 

Breathing To Music

While deep breathing must be practiced prior to running or while settling down in the middle of the race, one of the most effective breathing exercises for running is adopting a cadence, which works for you and for your pace. You can simply opt for a song and mentally rehearse it all through the run, which would keep your mind from wandering and help in keeping your breathing synchronized.

It can be your favorite fast tempo song or one with some encouraging lyrics. If you think that music has an effect on your pace and breathing, take note of the changes next time while you run with an MP3 player. You yourself would gallop into a faster pace subconsciously.

Hypoxic Training

Hypoxic training (training without enough oxygen) is borrowed from the theory used by the swimmers. As per the theory, limiting the use of oxygen will make an athlete capable of using it in a more efficient way and to tolerate higher levels of lactic acid. One way to practice hypoxic breathing is to simply breathe at a slower rate. You can try breathing in a 4:4 ratio during the course of running in its place of breathing in a 2:2 ratio. 

Tips

  • While running, your jaw must be in a relaxed position with the mouth slightly open.
  • Ensure you breathe through the nose and mouth at the same time, which maximizes the volume of oxygen that reaches the lungs.
  • You must take deep breaths with the diaphragm and avoid shallow breaths through the chest. Breathing with your diaphragm will make the stomach move in and out.
  • If you experience trouble breathing, frequent yoga classes will enable you to control and breathe mindfully. 

Breathing exercises explained above will not only benefit your running but will also make a great impact on your overall stress levels. Like yoga and meditation, they contribute towards achieving your fitness goals and make you a healthy being altogether.

Cover Image by Irina L from Pixabay

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