A quick way to calm down and destress is to simply breathe in and out. Breathing exercises can energize you and help you get into a clear state of mind. They have been around for a long time, and some claim that these exercises could help with ulcers, hypertension, anxiety, and cancer.
Breathing exercises are easy to do, and including them in your daily routine may improve your health. Know more about them here.
What’s In a Basic Breathing Exercise?
Engaging yourself in routinized breathing exercises for as little as ten minutes per day is enough to positively impact your day-to-day life. Anybody can try out a breathing exercise. When you try these breathing exercises out, look for an area with enough space to be comfortable. If possible, wear comfortable clothes. While adding breathing exercises to your daily routine is recommended, do not try to force exercise during times when you are too distressed, as you may just make yourself more anxious.
Do not try to do more exercise than you can handle. If you would like to increase the amount of time you spend doing breathing exercises, try to increase in increments. Start with an amount of time you are comfortable with, and slowly increase this amount per day until you are able to comfortably hit your target.
Breathing exercises are exercises where you take deep breaths. Deep breaths help you decrease anxiety, while shallow breaths do nothing. Before starting, make sure you have proper posture. Move your shoulders and hips around to make sure that they are not tilted or tense. To take a deep breath, inhale deeply and let your stomach rise more than your chest does. Do not inhale quickly, instead try to inhale in a controlled manner.
How Breathing Exercises Help
There are many kinds of breathing exercises all around the world, across different people, and cultures. Many researchers have studied the effects of traditional breathing exercises on a wide variety of health conditions. The results generally point towards the conclusion that breathing exercises can help your mental and physical health.
Improve Your Breathing
Breathing exercises can help improve your breathing and feel better. They can alleviate the burden of smoking withdrawal, One study showed that controlled deep breathing exercises reduced the subjects’ craving for cigarettes. Plus, their negative affect or feelings of irritation and tension.
For patients with asthma, deep breathing exercises may help the improve their quality of life in the short and long term.
Pranayama For Health
Pranayama, which means breath control, is a yogic exercise which yoga practitioners and physicians find beneficial to one’s health. Dhungel et. al’s (2008) study found that young adults that practiced the Pranayama breathing exercise for 15 minutes a day had increased parasympathetic activity.
Another study on healthy individuals found that slow breathing like pranayama can improve autonomic functions. Pranayama could help patients with arrhythmia improve their health and reduce their risk of sudden death.
Reduce the Burden on Your Health
Breathing exercises do not only just improve your health in general, but they reduce burdens on your health which are brought by certain health conditions. This study on allogeneic hemopoietic stem cell transplantation patients found that 30 minutes of breathing exercises could reduce fatigue. The same researchers found that breathing exercises could also decrease these patients’ levels of anxiety and depression.
Deep breathing exercises combined with cognitive behavioral therapy has helped improve the quality of sleep and heart rate of people with depression.
Breathing exercises can help alleviate symptoms of GERD. Researchers found that breathing exercises were an effective non-pharmacological intervention that reduced the disease burden of GERD.
10 Breathing Exercises To Try
1. Basic Breathing
To practice basic breathing, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take a deep breath through your nose without letting your chest expand more than your stomach. Use as much time as you need for inhaling and exhaling. Try to inhale and exhale 10 times.
2. 4-7-8 Breathing
Take a deep breath while counting to 4. Hold your breath while counting to 7. Breathe out while counting to 8. Try to do this until you feel calm.
3. Sama Vritti
This is a breathing exercise which can calm racing thoughts and improve sleep. Sit comfortably and keep your back straight. Count up to 4 for each breath if you are a novice. You can count up to 8 if you are used to it.
4. Active Nose Breathing
Active nose breathing is a breathing exercise you can do while walking. The goal is to walk as many steps while inhaling as when you exhale. You may start with 4 steps per inhale and 4 steps per exhale if you are a novice and bring the steps up to 10 eventually.
5. Lion’s Breath
Lion’s breath is a breathing exercise that starts with deeply inhaling through the nose. To exhale, lean your head back slightly and open your mouth to stick your tongue out. You should exhale through your mouth.
6. Abdominal Breathing Technique
Abdominal breathing starts with one hand placed on your chest, and your other hand placed on your stomach. The goal is to take in 6 to 10 breaths per minute. Use your hands to guide your breathing, as your diaphragm should be expanding more than your lungs.
7. Nadi Shodhana, or Alternate Nostril Breathing
Nadi shodhana is a breathing exercise where you use your fingers to block your nostrils. Inhale with one nostril blocked by a finger, and exhale with the previously blocked nostril.
8. Progressive Relaxation
Use progressive relaxation if you want to relax your whole body. Start by sitting with your back straight. Close your eyes before you start breathing slowly and deeply. Try to tense and then relax your muscles from one end of your body to the other. You may start from head to toe or go from toe to head.
This breathing exercise is also known as the skull cleanser or the skull shining breath. Kapalabhati can relax and energize us. Start by taking in a long and slow breath. Quickly exhale. Try to do 10 breaths. You may choose to keep your arms raised above your head.
10. Complete Breathing Technique
Practice the complete breathing technique by using your full lung capacity. When inhaling, try to fill up your diaphragm, mid-chest, and upper chest.