Breathing is a natural and involuntary action that happens in order for our bodies to take in and release air. It is a required action that helps our bodies function through everyday life. Breathing helps our respiratory system move oxygen in and out, and all throughout our body so that we are able to move and function properly. If you focus on your breathing you will find that you can control and reduce any stress or anxiety that you may be feeling. Deep breathing exercises are the center point focus of activities such as yoga, pilates, and meditation. Practicing breathing techniques can be beneficial to coping with stress-related health problems such as panic attacks and digestive disorders and can ultimately help ease your mind and body. A study was conducted to see the effects of controlled deep breathing on patients who were dependent smokers going through withdrawals. The study found that smoking withdrawal symptoms and cravings for cigarettes significantly dropped when patients practiced controlled deep breathing. Practicing controlled breathing can be beneficial not only physically but also mentally as well. Did you know that deep breathing can help lower blood pressure and heart rate, which can help prevent stroke and lower risk of cerebral aneurysm?
We did some research and found a few breathing exercises that you might want to try. Try these deep breathing exercises at home or on your free time!
Bellows Breath (The Stimulating Breath)
Bellows breath is a breathing exercise practiced in yoga techniques that focuses on raising vital energy and helps increase alertness. It is a noisy exercise that produces rapid movement of the diaphragm and if done properly, should heighten your sense of awareness. Try this when you feel a lack of energy for a boost. If done properly, you should feel rejuvenated.
- Rapidly inhale and exhale while keeping your mouth closed.
- Make sure your breaths are short, equal breaths.
- Practice 3 in-and-out breath cycles per second and breathe normally after every cycle.
- If it’s your first try, do not try to exceed 15 seconds. You can increase your time each time you practice the stimulating breath.
- As you practice, try to work up to reach a full minute.
The Relaxing (4-7-8) Breath Exercise
You can do this exercise anywhere and in any position, but it is best to do it sitting with your back straight. Through the entirety of the exercise, have the tip of your tongue placed against the tissue behind your upper front teeth. Slightly purse your lips if needed. For this exercise you will silently inhale through your nose and audibly breathe out through your mouth while keeping your tongue in place the whole time. This exercise will help ease any internal stress or tension when something upsetting has happened or to help you sleep.
- With your mouth closed, inhale silently through your nose while counting to four.
- Hold your breath for 7 counts.
- While making a whoosh sound, exhale out of your mouth for 8 counts.
- This whole process is one breath.
- Repeat the cycle 3 more times.
Breath Counting Exercise
This technique is typically used in the practice of Zen. Sitting in a comfortable position with your spine straight and head slightly tilted forward, take a couple deep breaths before letting it come naturally without any force of influence. Do not count higher than “five” for this exercise and only count once you have exhaled. Try to practice this for 10 minutes.
- Count “one” as you exhale.
- Exhale again, and count “two.”
- Repeat this up until you reach “five.”
- Then begin a new cycle again counting “one” when you exhale.
You can practice this exercise when you wake up in the morning to help relieve any muscle stiffness and to clear blocked off breathing passages and throughout the day to alleviate back tension.
- In a standing position, let your arms dangle by your side close to the floor while bending forward from your waist with knees slightly bent.
- While slowly and deeply inhaling, slowly roll up until you have returned to a standing position. Your head should be the last part of your body to come back up.
- Hold your breath for a few seconds in this position.
- Slowly exhale as you return to the original position, bending forward at the waist.
- Repeat these steps as necessary.