I think it's safe to assume that we all know how to breathe, but are we missing out on the benefits of this action that we do so unconsciously. Could we benefit from more deliberate and conscious breathing? Breathing can help with everything from increased mental clarity and sports performance, to stress and pain relief. Some even say that it helps with weight loss, but I've found no research to support this claim. So let's all take a deep breath.
Research on the benefits of breathing
Breathing And Your Brain: Five Reasons To Grab The Controls
Article / ByDavid DiSalvo
"We can change how we breathe, and to an extent change how breathing affects our bodies." Here are five science-based reasons for you to try controlled/deep breathing. There's stress management, management of anxiety, lowered blood pressure and heart rates, and brain growth. And the surprise finding, a change in gene expression, which to us means improved functioning of our immune system and metabolism.
These are different breathing techniques for running, swimming, and yoga to maximise your performance. For running it is recommended that you use 3:2 rhythmic breathing - inhaling for three steps and exhaling for two.
6 Breathing Exercises to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less
Article / ByJordan Shakeshaft
These exercises are great because you can do it right now, whether you're sitting at your desk, in front of the TV or lying in bed. Learn 'equal breathing', 'abdominal breathing', 'alternate nostril breathing' plus a few more techniques. The 'alternate nostril breathing' is apparently "almost like a cup of coffee" due to its stimulating effects.
A life time of holding in our tummies (which my husband has just admitted to doing) and suppressing our emotions can lead to shallow 'chest breathing'. We can however change this with regular practice. Deep abdominal breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilise blood pressure.
Yogic breathing exercises are widely used for pain control, especially during childbirth (but can also be used for slightly less dramatic times, for instance I found it helped to cure my dodgy knee...). Here are some simple-to-follow instructions to get you started.
Breath: The Essence of Yoga - A Guide to Inner Stillness
Book / BySandra Sabatini
This book is popular with the those that practice yoga as well as those that teach it. It teaches you how to use your breath to achieve inner calmness and mental clarity, as well as how to use your breath with various yoga poses, including the sun salutation. I found that the elimination of all capital letters from the text can have a very calming effect.
I am the founder of SelfCentr.com. I love reading personal development books and try very hard to implement the stuff that resonates with me. For the most part I am paralysed by fear and indulge in the fine art of proscrastination. So it's small changes for me.
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