Better Health, Naturally

The Benefits of Breathing

benefits of breathing

The Benefits of Breathing

Most of us could breathe more deeply and more efficiently. When we are stressed or anxious, we tend to breathe more shallowly, and this can have a negative impact on our health – reducing the amount of oxygen we are taking in. Doing some simple breathing exercises on a daily basis or when you feel your stress barometer is rising, can be a great tool to calm your nervous system. And best of all these exercises are portable – you can do them anywhere and anytime. Read further to find out the benefits and techniques of three different deep breathing exercises.

The Complete Breath

The Benefits:

  • purifies the bloodstream
  • develops chest and diaphragm muscles
  • strengthens the lungs, thorax and abdomen
  • increases resistance to colds
  • aids digestion
  • clears up phlegm
  • helps to lift depression
  • calms the nervous system

 

The Technique:

  • Sit in a comfortably cross-legged position or in a chair.
  • Straighten your back, which will straighten your thorax for easier breathing.
  • Inhale slowly through the nose, breathing deeply, consciously.
  • Take five seconds to fill the lower part of the lungs, expanding the ribs and pushing the abdomen out.
  • Hold the breath for 1-5 seconds.
  • Exhale slowly until you have emptied the lungs.
  • Repeat 4-5 times more.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DO establish a rhythmic rise and fall of your abdomen, to promote regular breathing.
  • DO attempt to breathe inaudibly after you have gotten the knack of deep breathing.
  • DO concentrate on your breathing alone, with your eyes closed, if you wish. It serves to do the technique better, but it is also a preparation for meditation.
  • DO push your abdomen out as you breathe in and pull the abdomen in as you breathe out.
  • Do give an extra snort as you exhale to rid yourself of stale waste-matter in the bottom of the lungs.
  • DO NOT slump. For maximum efficiency the thorax must be straight.

 

The Alternate Nostril Breath

The Benefits:

  • calming effect on the nervous system
  • purifies the bloodstream and aerates the lungs
  • improves digestion and appetite
  • helps to overcome insomnia
  • soothes headaches
  • helps to free the mind of anxiety and depression

 

The Technique:

  • Sit in a comfortably cross-legged position, back straight.
  • Raise your RIGHT hand and place your ring finger against your LEFT nostril, closing it off.
  • Inhale deeply and slowly through the RIGHT nostril to the count of four.
  • Close off the RIGHT nostril with your thumb and retain the breath for 1-4 seconds.
  • Open the LEFT nostril and exhale to the count of 4-8 seconds. The longer you can make the exhalation, the better. Concentrate on completely emptying the lungs.
  • Breathe in through the same LEFT nostril to the count of 4.
  • Close off the nostril with the ring finger again and hold to the count of 1-4 seconds.
  • Exhale through the RIGHT nostril to the count of 4-8 seconds. This makes up one round.
  • Repeat these rounds of alternate nostril breathing five more times

 

The Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DO practice whenever you need calming – if you are nervous, upset or irritable.
  • DO NOT push yourself with the holding position or by increasing the count.

 

The Cleansing Breath

 The Benefits:

  • clears lungs, sinuses and nasal passages
  • aids digestion
  • purifies the bloodstream and clears the head
  • relieves colds
  • strengthens the lungs, thorax and abdomen
  • stimulates the liver, spleen and pancreas
  • tones the nervous system

The Technique:

  • Inhale deeply, pushing the abdomen out, taking in as much air as possible in the space of 1 second.
  • Whack your abdomen in forcefully to expel the air through the nostrils.
  • Inhale again by pushing the abdomen out and letting the air rush back into the lungs.
  • The whole process, inhalation and exhalation, should take not much more than 1-1/2 seconds. Both should be forceful and will be quite audible.

 

The Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DO push the abdomen out as far as you can as you inhale.
  • DO NOT exhale consciously, but let the action of the abdomen do it for you.

 

Happy Breathing!

Author Info

Ashely Gordon

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