“Take a deep breath!!!” People often are caught giving advice to others during the stressed times. It just comes out of their mouth without even thinking. But, have you ever given a thought to this sentence? Why do people keep saying that. We all breathe all the time, don’t we? So, why are we specifically advised to breathe while facing hard times?
Despite the advice, many of us simply ignore it and continue in our own stressful manner. Some people do take that deep breath but fail to register in their brain how that breath calmed down their body and thinking.
Unlike the beating of our heart, breathing is a an involuntary activity that can be taken over by our conscious mind and it then becomes a voluntary activity. Breathing does not just keeps our system running, it is more than that. You’ll be surprised to know that correct breathing has many positive impacts on not only your body but also your mind/thinking .
We are living in a machine world where everyone is constantly working. This constant activity results in wear and tear in the form of health issues like stress, anxiety, depression, High BP, cardiovascular and bronchial disorders. It has become a global problem today. A lot of time and money is being spent on such health problems.
What if you come to know that only by Breathing correctly you can help you prevent and cure such health problems! And guess what, it’s a totally free and never ending resource. All you have to do is give a little attention to your breath and do some breathing exercises to help your body.
Research on Breathing is Ancient
The research on Breathing practices for the healing of body and mind is on since ancient times. They are being practiced from centuries. According to an article by Scientific American, today’s breathing exercises are inspired from the ancient Ashtanga Yoga practiced in India since ancient times. The breathing practices are inspired from Pranayama which is one of the eight aspects of Ashtanga Yoga.
Pranayama focuses on an internal breath a kind of energy that flows through your body known as the ‘prana’.
Importance of breathing is also mentioned in Tao religion of China they call it ‘qi’. In Greek ‘pneuma’ and Hebrew ‘ruah’ both refer to breath .
How do we Breathe
Most of the times when we are stressed and/or occupied and engaged in our thoughts and work, we switch to involuntary breathing. When we are consciously carrying out the breathing, it becomes voluntary breathing. In this switching, there are certain patterns of breathing that can change how you feel internally.
Costal or Chest Breathing:
This type of breathing is due to the outward and upward movement of our chest wall. It is the kind of breathing which most of us do today. This type of breathing can be useful during high intensity exercises but not in daily life activities. In chest breathing we put all the stress on our shoulder and neck muscles. These muscles never rest which increases the chances of injury.
Abdominal Breathing or Diaphragmatic Breathing:
Have you noticed a young child (say 6-8 months old) sleeping? As the child sleeps, her stomach moves with every breath. Its called the Abdominal breathing. It is said that when we are calm and controlled our breathing is abdominal. This type the breathing starts through nose and then moves towards the stomach. The abdominal Breathing is mainly due to a respiratory muscle called diaphragm . This is the most effective way to breathe. In abdominal breathing during inhalation lungs are expanded at its best and let in as much oxygen as necessary. Due to improved circulation there is a physical and mental relaxation of body resulting in multiple other advantages mainly like :
- Reduced Blood Pressure
- Relaxed body and mind
- Improved digestion
- Lowering stress hormone
- Improved heart rate
My Breathing Story
I used to be a mouth breather and didn’t even care much about it. But then while doing some exercises or eating or many other regular work I realized I am not that calm as others are while doing same. Instead of feeling fresh after waking up in the morning I used to feel tired.
After noticing my breathing pattern and a lot of research it was clear that breathing through mouth was the reason behind it all. Just by inhaling and exhaling through my nose has changed a lot of things about my body. I am much calm and able to concentrate more on things now.
Focus on your breathing gives you the information when it is shallow or when you totally stop breathing due to some reason (e.g Sleep apnea). If you are aware of your breathing habit it is easy to improve it .
The Nose is for Breathing, the Mouth is for Eating”!!
This is the first step towards your breathing improvement. There are always never ending discussions on correct diet and exercises for a healthy body. But when it comes to correct breathing technique we don’t give it that much importance. It is important to know and practice the correct way of breathing.
According to experts Nasal breathing is the right way of breathing except for emergencies. Our body is designed to breathe through the nose. Mouth breathing is not healthy. Just by breathing through mouth we invite many health issues like: lack of energy, sleeping problems, stress, abnormal facial characteristics.
According to a report by oralhealth, breathing through mouth may also cause postural problems. Inhaling through our nostrils keeps out lungs healthy and more oxygen enters our body. So inhaling through nose must be the way to breathe.
How to Make Healthy Breathing a Habit?
So now we know that a best way to breathe is through the nose and towards the stomach. Also there are some kinds of breathing ways that might help to promote healthy breathing habit.
Deep breathing exercise:
There is no better way than a relaxed deep breathing. It keeps your blood pressure from spiking. This breathing relaxes you and keeps your mind calm. Whenever there is stress:
1 . Take a deep inhale
2 . Retain your breath for some counts
3 . Exhale slowly through your nose
It calms and relaxes you the second you start doing it.
Yoga and Pranayama Exercises:
Pranayama in Ashtanga Yoga is all about the power of breathing. The word Pranayama means controlling the vital energy. It revolves around the breathing and how it is done.
Calm and controlled breathing is all the yoga and pranayama exercises are about. These exercises lead to mental relaxation and makes our body strong. There is a specific way of controlled breathing which gives amazing effects.
Here are 5 Pranayams to boost your breathing.
Diaphragm Breathing Exercise:
This breathing exercise improves circulation to the abdominal organs. Body gets sufficient Oxygen through inhale. It also helps in shortness of breath.
- Keep your shoulders, neck and head relaxed.
- Place your hand on your belly.
- Breathe in through your nose towards your belly.
- As you inhale you will feel your belly coming outwards.
- Breathe out.
- Try to exhale longer than you inhale.
Experience the Change
It appears that simply by focusing and controlling our breathing we can see amazing benefits. It makes a connection between your body and mind. According to experts breathing affects your body by affecting respiratory, cardiovascular systems. Focusing on our breathing can help in healing body’s physical and mental condition.
Just by adapting healthy breathing habit initially you will start noticing many changes in yourself. You’ll feel energetic and will be able to concentrate more. You will be more calm and confident. It is said that it is very important to feel something before doing it. So if you will feel your breath you will be able to breathe more efficiently .
So what are you waiting for ? Start breathing now!!
What’s your thoughts on breathing? Leave your reply in the comment box below.