Benefits of Deep Breathing
Most people unconsciously breathe from their chests, resulting in short, shallow and inefficient breaths. Chest breathing causes reduced oxygen and nutrient delivery, increased feelings of anxiety and stress, and muscle tension. Unlike chest breathing, deep breathing involves breathing from your abdomen, which enables you to draw air all the way down into the deepest pockets of your lungs. Deep breathing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental well-being.
To practice a basic deep, abdominal breathing technique, sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands resting comfortably in your lap. Keep your spine extended tall and relax your shoulders. Observe your current breathing patterns for a few moments. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. Inhale as deeply as you can, drawing the air into your abdomen. Focus on raising your lower hand, then your upper hand, as your body fills with air. Pause for a moment and exhale completely, contracting your abdominal muscles to expel the last bits of air from your lungs.
Deep breathing helps quiet your mind and body, which can result in a number of significant physical and psychological benefits. Deep breathing reduces your need for oxygen, leading to decreased firing activity in the nerve cells in your brain. Additionally, deep breathing slows down the activity of your parasympathetic nervous system by increasing oxygen delivery and promoting the activation of your sympathetic nervous system's relaxation response.
Deep breathing results in greater oxygen and nutrient delivery because you draw air down into the deep pockets of your lungs, which is where the greatest amount of blood flow occurs, according to the American Medical Student Association. This may help increase your energy levels and can result in improved stamina in athletics and other physical activities. Deep breathing also increases your body's production of endorphins, your body's natural pain-killing chemicals. Endorphins are the chemicals responsible for the feeling of euphoria known as "runner's high." According to the Pain Center of Arizona, endorphins may help block your nerve cells from releasing pain signals to your brain, which can provide benefits during times of acute and chronic pain.
Deep breathing is a powerful tool for stress relief and relaxation. It teaches you to be more conscious and mindful of your everyday activities and promotes your body's relaxation response. The relaxation response involves a deactivation of your stress response, also known as the "fight-or-flight" response. Deep breathing helps return your body to a state of equilibrium after an anxiety-provoking or fearful event. By tuning in to your breath, you refocus your attention on the internal, rather than the external, world.
A Short, Easy Daily Practice
Take 10 deep breaths (as in the described technique above) before each meal.
Take care of your self and enjoy!