Breathing is something everyone does all day, every day. Experts believe, however, that humans might not be doing it the right way. Here are 10 different ways that breathing can be more than just “breathe in, breathe out.”
1) Deep Breathing Techniques
Close your eyes and inhale deeply. Hold for a count of three and then exhale completely. Hold for a count of three before inhaling again. Try this for only a minute at a time to begin with to prevent yawning or hyperventilating (dizziness caused by an overabundance of oxygen in the brain).
2) Breathing While Exercising
When we move our bodies in exercise, our muscles and brain need more oxygen than normal. As a result we tend to breathe faster. Consciously slowing down and breathing more deeply will help our bodies become more efficient, thus increasing our strength and endurance.
3) Breathing During Meditation
Careful and regular breathing is the first step to controlling your body and mind so that a deeper level of consciousness can be achieved. Whether meditating for physical and mental benefits or seeking deeper spiritual enlightenment, the core of meditation is found in deep and careful breathing.
4) Yoga Breathing
Yoga combines a form of meditation with a specific style of exercise and stretches. Controlled breathing while moving between and holding certain poses with the body has been known to bring both physical strength and clarity of mind.
5) Breathing to Calm and Relax
When faced with a potential threat or danger, every human will instinctively react in one of two ways. This reaction is called “fight or flight” meaning the body must decide whether to flee the danger or stay and fight it. The first and best way to control this impulse is to take a deep breath to calm ourselves down.
6) Breathing for Stress Management
Hundreds of times each day, our bodies are subjected to big and little stresses that add up. Without relieving these stresses, the chemicals produced by the “fight or flight” response will build up in our systems, causing both emotional and physical damage. Using deep breathing techniques for several minutes every day can help alleviate build up of daily stress in the body and mind.
7) Breathing for Pain Management
Dr. Lamaze discovered more than 70 years ago, that controlled and focused breathing during periods of intense pain during labor helped calm the birthing mother down and, in many cases, helped delay the need for medication and medical intervention. Today many pain management doctors agree that similar breathing techniques can be useful for patients suffering from short-term, intense pain as well as a way to help control chronic and wide-spread pain.
8) Breathing to Increase Oxygen
One of the most immediate results of deep breathing is an increase in oxygen. However, there are specific exercises that can be used regularly to help increase your lung capacity. Inhaling to your capacity and holding your breath for 10 seconds is just one way. Breathing through only one side of your nose at a time (alternating sides of your nose with each breath) or slowly exhaling while humming are just a few ways you can increase your oxygen levels through focused breathing exercises.
9) COPD Breathing Exercises
Patients who suffer from COPD have a difficult time breathing and their airways may become clogged with mucus. Respiratory therapists will often prescribe certain exercises, breathing in certain positions, and relaxation techniques to help ease the symptoms and slow the damage COPD can cause. These remedies are often used in combination with controlled coughing, extra hydration, and using a humidifier.
10) Abdominal Breathing
Abdominal breathing is a more focused and controlled way of learning how to breathe efficiently. While inhaling, place a hand on your belly, right below your rib cage. This is so that you can feel the way your hand moves out when your lungs are fully expanded. As you exhale, purse your lips like you are blowing out a candle and let your body relax. Exhaling should take twice as long as inhaling.
During a normal day an average human has a regular, shallow breathing pattern unless we become aware of our own breathing and we suddenly feel the urge to breathe deeply (or sigh.) However, by practicing conscious deep breathing several times a day, we can train our minds and bodies to regularly breathe more deeply and as a result, enjoy the benefits of increased oxygen and improved health.
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