We all know how breathing is essential to life, but only a few people are aware of the fact that breathing better can also improve health in the long term. Breathing is deeply connected with the mind and body, and they all influence each other in the human body. Breathing is essentially influenced by your thoughts, which is why practicing breathing exercises can affect your thoughts and physiological health. Breathing during exercise consciously with awareness is a good practice that can help restore the balance between your mind and body. There are a few breathing techniques that help in stress reduction, preventing insomnia, emotional control, improves attention, and make our life better. This is why the regular practice of deep breathing being one of the best exercises for improving your overall health and well-being. Below given are some of the best breathing exercises to practice on a regular basis:
Breathing exercises for sleep:
There are many breathing exercises for sleep that you can try to make yourself relax and fall asleep easily. However, there are a few basic rules that apply to all of them.Try to close to your eyes entirely in order to shut out any distractions and take deep breaths while focusing on your breathing. There are many different breathing exercises which you can try anywhere, including the 4-7-8 breathing technique, Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise, Buteyko breathing, Diaphragmatic breathing exercise, Three-part breathing exercise, and Alternate nasal breathing exercise. Each of these exercises has different benefits, and it is recommended to choose what works best for you. Each of these exercises will make you feel relaxed, breathe more effectively, and improves your sleep cycle. Just close your eyes, sit back, relax, and before you know it, you will be sleeping like a baby.
Breathing exercises for stress
Breathing exercises are also a great way to help relieve stress and anxiety. Exercises like Square breathing (aka box breathing or 4x4 breathing) and Pursed breathing are some of the most effective breathing exercises for stress that works like wonder.Square breathing is very effective at relieving stress and anxiety, which is why sometimes it is used in the military, medical or psychology purposes to help calm nerves before or after any stressful situations. It is performed by using the breath to make a square by breathing in for 4 seconds, then hold the breath in for 4 seconds and breathe out for 4 seconds while holding it again for 4 seconds. While pursed breathing is another technique that helps relieve your stress and anxiety while making your lungs stronger and healthy. This technique is just as simple as it sounds. Use diaphragmatic or stomach to breathe in for 4 seconds and then breathe out for 8 seconds with pursed lips.
Breathing exercises to strengthen the lungs
Some of the breathing exercises, such as pursed-lip breathing, belly breathing, helps improve their lung function. Our lung capacity is equal to the total amount of air that the lungs can hold, and over time, it's capacity and function decrease slowly after the mid-20s. Luckily, there are few breathing exercises to strengthen lungs that can help maintain and increase lung capacity and makes your lungs healthy while getting your body sufficient oxygen it needs. Belly breathing exercise engages the diaphragm and more than the chest. Breathe through your nose for two seconds, feel the air get into your abdomen, and feel your stomach gets bigger. Pursed-lips breathing is an easier method to improve your lung capacity, and one can try it at home for the first time, even without any supervision. It is a slow breathing method that is done while keeping the airways open for a longer time, which makes it easier for the lungs to work and enhances the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.
Yoga for improved breathing:
There are various breathing exercises in Yoga that can be very useful to our everyday health and life. But it is essential to take a few minutes to relax and breathe before starting any breathing excises as it will make the whole process easier to try. Breathing exercise Pranayama in Yoga is a branch of Yoga that focuses entirely on breath control and improvement. Research says that the simple practice of this yoga exercise can reduce anxiety and depression, lower or stabilize blood pressure, improve immunity, increases energy levels, and reduces PTSD symptoms. If you are new at it, you might need a little guidance while connecting the breath to the movement of lungs and following the process. There are lots of different breathing practices that you can try to achieve different results.
- Belly Breath and Dirgha Pranayama include the expansion of the chest, abdomen, and neck region. This breathing method helps to calm down the mind and develop awareness.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing or Nadi Shodhana includes alternating breathing through each nostril and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
- Oceans Breath or Ujjayi includes taking is slightly deeper than normal breath, with mouth closed, and exhale through the nose while squeezing your throat muscles. It should sound like ocean waves if one is doing it doing this correctly.
- Energizing Breath or Bhastrika includes taking few deep and full breaths through the abdomen and exhaling forcefully through the nose. It includes breathing entirely from the diaphragm while keeping the head, neck, shoulders, and chest still. Take powerful and deep inhalations at the rate of one second per cycle that will make your belly moves in and out. This practice gives you an instant surge of energy and rejuvenates your mind.
Meditation for breathing improvement: breathing exercises meditation
A deep breathing exercise is a form of meditation in itself. Meditation promotes mainly diaphragmatic breathing and can help improve memory, fights depression, reduce anxiety, promotes good sleep, and can also improve heart health. In meditation, it is required to breathe through the diaphragm, which will cave in when you inhale the air and let it go into your lungs. And when you exhale the air from your lungs, the diaphragm will expand, while efficiently pushing the air out. There are various forms of meditation that uses different breathing techniques. Breathing exercise Meditation has only one intention, which is to make one familiar with their mind and body and who they are. Some of the best meditative breathing techniques include:
- Shamatha breathing is a technique that is focused on awareness of ones breathing as it is. It is a common practice for mindful meditation, which includes connecting to the natural cycle of the breath while keeping the focus on expansion and reduction in the size of the stomach.
- Nadi Shodhana or Pranayama is a form of alternate nostril breathing practice that helps restore the balance in your body and affects your overall mental and physical health. In this method, the left thumb is used to gently close the left nostril while inhaling slowly through the right nostril and then closing it with the ring finger while repeating the same for the other.
- Kumbhaka Pranayama or Intermittent breath retention is one of the most effective breath-focused meditation. In this method, air from the lungs is exhaled out through your mouth. Use your nose to inhale slowly while keeping the lips closed, until your lungs are full. And, for Antara, wait for three to five seconds while you hold the air in your lungs and then release slowly. To practice bahya, after exhaling the air from your lungs, hold the breath for three to five seconds before inhaling again. Intermittent breathing can be found useful in preventing metabolism rate issues in your body, which is caused due to changes in the rate your body uses and burns oxygen.
Breathing exercises benefits
Regular practice of deep breathing exercises benefits and improving your overall health and well-being. Breathing consciously with awareness is a good practice that helps restore balance in the mind and body and can help you achieve peace of mind. Some of the breathing exercise benefits are:
- Muscle Tension Relief:
- Practicing breathing exercises early morning before taking any coffee or tea can help minimize the muscle tension in the body throughout the day. You can start with a light stretching exercise while focusing on your breath.
- Boosting Energy Levels:
- Breathing exercises like Double Breathing or Bellows Breath are a form of rapid breathing techniques that activates the breath in short bursts. This practice activates the movements that excite the nervous system and make you more alert and energized, which is why these practices are perfect for trying at first thing in the morning, or during a lazy afternoon. It includes inhaling rapidly through the nose while taking quick and short breaths and exhale quickly while keeping the mouth closed. This stimulating breath technique is a non-caffeinated way to give your mind and body an energy boost.
- For Relaxation and Stress Relief:
- Breathing is a powerful tool to relieve stress and make you feel less anxious. Few simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them a part of your daily routine. Exercises like Deep Breathing, Breath Focus, Equal Time for Breathing in and Breathing Out, Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Lion's Breath, etc. can help effectively combat stress while reducing the harmful effects of anxiety and stress. In order to achieve that, one needs to stimulate the bodys natural relaxation response, which is a state of deep rest that changes the emotional and physical response to stress such as blood pressure, muscle tension, decreases in heart rate and rate of breathing. These focused abdominal breathing exercises help increases the supply of oxygen to the brain, which stimulates the nervous system and helps achieve a state of calmness.
Breathing exercises are recommended by doctors, therapists, athletic trainers, yogis, many professionals for many different fields as it strongly benefits the overall health and performance of an individual through deep and mindful breathing. Breathing during exercise is equally important for other exercises as well. While different breathing exercises have different effects, it also depends on different individual and their lifestyle. To achieve good results and benefits from these exercises, one should take a moment to calm the mind and take deep breaths every day before practice.