5 Breathing Practices for a Healthier and Improved Life
Stop whatever you are doing! Take a deep breath—a good, deep breath—and let it out. If you’re feeling a little lighter, you’re not imagining it. Mental health professionals and yogis recommend deep breathing because of all the wonderful ways it can benefit your mental health, and not just your respiratory system.
Inhaling, exhaling a few deep breaths every day could make a drastic improvement in your lifestyle. Taking just a few minutes each day to practice some deep breathing exercises can reduce stress, relax your mind, and body, and can help you sleep better.
Here are 5 techniques of breathing a person can try to attain improved health and well-being:
1. Pursed lip breathing
People living with lung conditions may wish to consider trying pursed-lip breathing. Breathing techniques may help people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These conditions weaken the lungs and make it harder for a person to breathe out all of the stale air. With stale air taking up room in the lungs, the diaphragm cannot work properly.
Pursed lip breathing can help get the diaphragm working and increase the amount of oxygen entering the body. It keeps the airways open for longer than normal.
How To perform pursed-lip breathing?
- Breathe in through the nose
- Breathe out through the mouth with pursed lips
- Make the breath out twice as long as the breath in
2. Diaphragmatic breathing
People may consider trying diaphragmatic breathing to get relief from the symptoms of lung conditions, stress, or anxiety. Diaphragmatic breathing, which some people refer to as belly breathing, helps strengthen the lungs and make them work more efficiently.
It is important to relax the neck and shoulders for this breathing technique, as this will make the diaphragm do more of the work of breathing. Performing this technique lying down may help a person focus on filling the lungs fully, as they can pay close attention to the belly rising and falling.
How to perform diaphragmatic breathing?
- Place the hands lightly on the belly
- Breathe in through the nose until the belly rises
- Breathe out through the mouth for twice as long
3. Mindful breathing
People may consider trying mindful breathing to reduce stress, sleep issues, or high blood pressure.
This technique requires a person to concentrate fully on the breath. One simple mindful breathing technique is to focus on the natural rhythm of breathing in and out, without trying to change it. Doing this may naturally slow down breathing.
How to perform mindful breathing?
- Find a quiet place without distractions
- Choose a comfortable position, ideally sitting or lying down
- Focus on breathing by feeling and listening to the body inhale and exhale
- Allow thoughts to pass through the mind without judgment
4. Deep breathing
Breathing deeply can be an extremely effective way when one is in a stressful situation. Taking a deep, full breath can slow the heartbeat and make a person feel calmer.
How to perform deep breathing?
- Sit somewhere comfortable and consciously relax the shoulders
- Inhale slowly, filling the lungs
- Exhale slowly, emptying the lungs completely
- Count to 4 for each breath.
5. Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is a common part of yoga practice. Most people use one nostril more than the other without realizing it. This exercise can even out the breathing and help a person slow down the breath to reduce stress.
It is best to sit in a comfortable position on a chair or the floor for this exercise. A person should breathe out fully before beginning the breathing technique.
How to perform alternate nostril breathing?
- Close the right nostril with the thumb of one hand
- Breathe in through the left nostril
- Close the left nostril with the fourth finger and release the thumb
- Breathe out through the right nostril
- Breathe in through the right nostril
- Close the right nostril with the thumb and release the fourth finger
- Breathe out through the left nostril
How to start performing breathing exercises?
Breathing exercises don’t necessarily have to be time taking. It does not take a lot of time out of your day. It is really just about setting aside some time to pay attention to your breathing for improved and quality health. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Begin the breathing exercise with just 5 minutes a day, and increase your time as the exercise becomes easier and more comfortable.
- If 5 minutes feels too long, start with only 2 minutes a day.
- Practice deep breathing multiple times a day. Schedule set times or practice conscious breathing as you feel the need.
Benefits of deep breathing
Breathing exercises can help with a range of medical conditions, particularly stress and anxiety. They are most effective when done as part of a daily routine. Following are the benefits of it:
- Acts as a natural painkiller
- The body produces feel-good hormones (Endorphins)
- Improves the blood flow
- Calms down anxiety and stress levels
- Helps you sleep better
- Increases energy level
- Improves body posture
- Reduces inflammation & acidity
- Improves digestion to a great extent
From doctors and therapists to yogis and athletic trainers, many professionals in many different fields believe strongly in the benefits of deep, mindful breathing. While these techniques might have different effects on different people, you can never go wrong when you take a moment to calm your mind and take a breath.
Take breathing techniques as therapies, not medications. Consult with Shifa International Hospital’s expert doctors in case of emergency on 051-8464646 or visit our website, https://www.shifa.com.pk/ to learn more about your health condition.