Reasons to practice deep breathing

Reasons to practice deep breathing

Breathe in. Breathe out. We do this all day, every day without a thought. Ask yourself this- when was the last time you took a deep breath? Probably not as frequently as you think. I would venture to say only a few times a day. But did you know that deep breathing is one of our easiest, most convenient, and natural tools to combat issues like stress and anxiety, reduce pain, high blood pressure, and even aid in digestion?

So why should you do this? Simply put- extra oxygen does wonders for the body and mind. It cleanses, opens, and soothes different parts of our being and is overall something extremely healthy we can all do. Here are a few benefits to deep breathing:

1. Breathing detoxifies and releases toxins.

Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins (harmful, unwanted substances) through breathing. If you are not breathing effectively, you are not properly ridding your body of its toxins and thus, other systems of your body must work overtime to release the toxins, which could eventually lead to an illness.

When you exhale air from your body, you release carbon dioxide that has been passed from your bloodstream into your lungs. Carbon dioxide is a natural waste of your body’s metabolism (chemical processes that go on continuously inside your body to keep you alive).

2. Deep breathing releases tension.

Think how your body feels when you are tense, angry, scared, or stressed. It constricts. Your muscles get tight and your breathing becomes shallow. When your breathing is shallow, you are not getting the amount of oxygen that your body needs. Deep breathing helps more oxygen enter your body, releasing the tension in your muscles.

3. Breathing relaxes your mind/body and brings clarity.

Oxygenation of the brain reduces excessive anxiety levels. Pay attention to your breathing; breathe slowly, deeply, and purposefully into your body. Notice any places that are tight and breathe into them. As you relax your body, you may find that the breathing brings clarity and positive insights.

4. Breathing relieves emotional problems.

Deep breathing will help clear uneasy feelings out of your body. It disengages your mind from disturbing and negative thoughts. When you breathe properly, your body sends signals to your brain asking it to calm down and relieves stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotions that you might be carrying around.

5. Breathing relieves pain.

What happens to your breathing when you anticipate pain? You probably hold your breath. Yet studies show that breathing into your pain helps to ease it.

Understand that when muscles are tense, they increase pressure on your nerves, which can make the pain worse. Breathing exercises can help break this cycle. Conscious or deep breathing will relax your body and release tension around the pain site.

6. Breathing massages your organs.

The movements of the diaphragm during deep breathing massages your stomach, small intestine, liver, and pancreas. The upper movement of the diaphragm also massages the heart.

When you inhale air, your diaphragm descends and your abdomen expands. By this action, you massage vital organs and improve circulation in them. Controlled breathing also strengthens and tones your abdominal muscles.

7. Breathing strengthens your immune system.

Deep breathing expands your lungs and increases efficiency in oxygen absorption and supply. Oxygen travels through your bloodstream by attaching to hemoglobin (a type of protein that carries oxygen) in your red blood cells. This in turn then enriches your body to metabolize nutrients and vitamins, strengthens the muscles of the chest, improves digestion and quality of sleep. As a result, it strengthens your overall immune system by reducing stress and allowing enough rest.

8. Breathing improves posture.

Good breathing techniques over a sustained period of time will encourage good posture and vice versa. Bad body posture will result in incorrect breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing improves your body’s balance and helps correct wrong/slouching posture.

9. Breathing improves the quality of your blood.

Slow and deep breathing increases the level of oxygen in your blood. It removes excess carbon dioxide and increases oxygen in the blood and thus increases/enhances your blood quality.

10. Breathing increases digestion and assimilation of food.

Your digestive organs such as the stomach receive more oxygen and hence operate more efficiently. The digestion is further enhanced by the fact that the food is oxygenated more, allowing for faster and quicker absorption of nutrients and vitamins in your blood.

11. Breathing improves the nervous system.

Deep, long breaths activate your nervous system and increase its efficiency in handling the stress responses.

12. Proper breathing makes the heart stronger.

Breathing exercises reduce the workload on the heart in two ways. Firstly, deep breathing leads to more efficient lungs, which means more oxygen is brought into contact with blood sent to the lungs by your heart. So, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues.

Secondly, deep breathing leads to a greater pressure differential in the lungs, which leads to an increase in blood circulation, thus resting your heart a little.

13. Proper breathing assists in weight control.

Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen in your body and this extra oxygen supplied to your body helps in burning the extra fat that is deposited in your body.

14. Breathing elevates your mood.

Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and promotes calmness. It induces the release of endorphins, your ‘feel-good’ hormones that lift or elevate your mood.

Now, deep breathing is something that is unnatural for your body to do, so just like learning any new skill, it takes practice! Try to incorporate one breathing exercise each day. Here is a simple breathing exercise that can be incorporated into your daily routine:

>>> Breathe in calmly, through the nose, filling your abdomen and chest, for 5 seconds (or longer, not exceeding 7 seconds). Hold this breath in for 3 seconds. Slowly and gently release the breath through the mouth for 5 seconds (or more, whatever is comfortable.) breathe out through a slightly parted lip or “O” shaped lips. Repeat this 5 times, or even better, continue for 5 minutes.<<<

Important tips: Deep breathing should be slow and gentle. Remember to fill the abdomen, not just the chest. A simple way to make sure you are doing this is to place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breath deeply and make sure your hand on your stomach is rising. Try to be aware of your breath, heartbeat and to release tension from your body. Sometimes it’s easier to lie down or sit comfortably in a chair.

Can’t find time for these techniques? Consider ways to sneak them into your schedule, like right when you wake up and go to sleep, driving home from work, in the shower, or even put a reminder on your phone or a post-it note on your bathroom mirror or computer monitor at work.

So what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath in… And out!

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