Why is it so beneficial to your health and how to get started?
Breathing is essential to us, but it seems so natural, automatic, and effortless that we don`t pay any attention to it. This function is automatically regulated by our autonomic nervous system and is our companion from birth when we take our first breath as a newborn baby.
It is known for a long time not only that we can control our breathing, but that we can also benefit greatly from doing it properly.
Yogis, Sufis, Zen Buddhist monks, Shamans, Martial Arts Masters, and other teachers of ancient meditation practice have been teaching breathing techniques as a powerful tool for controlling our minds and emotions, connecting with our true self, and re-balancing our bodies.
These practices have been used in the Eastern tradition for millennia, but the Western world has recently discovered this knowledge and tried to incorporate it into its healing practices. Over the last decades, an increasing number of scientific studies have been conducted to prove the healing effects of deep breathing, which is also an essential part of meditative practices, yoga, and mindfulness, on our health and well-being.
Increasing numbers of studies have shown that breathing techniques have an impact on both physiological and psychological factors.
According to Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, breathing is intimately linked to mental function, where the psychological / behavioral output of proper breathing is increased comfort, relaxation, pleasure, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of excitement, anxiety , depression, anger, and confusion.
The study carried out by researchers at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, Dublin, shows the connection between our way of breathing and our brain health.
They have discovered that breathing affects the chemistry of our brain and helps the brain to develop new connections. Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, and Principal Investigator, said:
“Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath and regulating it in precise ways—a practice known as Pranayama—changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realized. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centered practices and a steadiness of mind.”
Traditionally, there are two types of breathing-focused practices — those that focus on breathing (mindfulness) and those that require breathing to be controlled (deep breathing practices such as Pranayama). Both types have been shown to be effective both in the short and long term.
You do not need any special preparations or extra time to practice proper breathing. It is safe and easy, and you can do it anywhere and anywhere. It is enough to do it for 10-15 minutes a day.
Whenever you feel stressed out, whether in your office or at home, just take some time out with some deep breaths, and your body and mind will immediately respond and move to a calmer zone. You will feel how your muscles relax, how your heart rate slows down, how your breathing deepens and how your mind is freed from constant brain talk.
Try this simple but incredibly powerful and healthy breathing technique:
1. Take a break of 10 to 15 minutes. Choose a quiet place, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and put your hands on your belly.
2. Take your first deep breath. Inhale slowly through your nose. First, fill your lower abdomen, then your upper abdomen. Feel your stomach widening like a balloon. Continue to expand your chest and inhale all the way to your shoulders. Do not lift your shoulders. This is called reverse breathing, and it is different from our automated breathing, where we first expand our chest.
3. Then start exhaling from the collar bones through your mouth all the way to your lower abdomen. You feel like you have emptied a balloon at the end of your exhalation, and your belly is pulled in.
4. Count in your mind while you are breathing. At the beginning, try inhaling slowly while counting to four, and then exhaling while counting to eight. Try to extend both numbers later. Observe your body and do it in your capacity. Do not exaggerate it. It is important to breathe in the rhythm without holding your breath between inhalation and exhalation. Counting is going to help you focus on breathing and keep your mind from wandering.
5. Later, when you master this basic part, you can take a step further and visualize the white / gold color that comes through your nostrils, bring fresh air and healing energy into your body, and visualize the gray, dark air that represents stress, blockages, negativity, leaving your body through your mouth.
This is just one example that can help you start practicing, but there are a lot of different breathing techniques out there, and I suggest you find the one that makes you feel good and comfortable.
The benefits of a proper deep breathing are not only short-term but also long-term, and here are some of them:
Calms down your nervous system
Frees your mind from negative thinking and reduces stress
Helps with anxiety, depression, panic attacks
Mind and Body detox
Heals mental and psychological illnesses
Increases energy and self-confidence
Improves your attention and focus
Helps you experience life in the present moment
Allows you to take control of your life
Improves focus on your goals
Connects you to your true self
Raises awareness of your mind-body-spirit connection
Deep breathing to me is like a safe haven, helping me to center myself in the midst of the storm and chaos that surrounds me, helping me to control my emotions and enabling me to connect with the quietness, authenticity and intuition within me. When I am relaxed and focused, in my quiet zone, everything looks clear and seems to be possible, and I feel strong and confident to overcome any challenges.
I wish you could discover the benefits of deep breathing yourself and enjoy life in a new way.