One of the relaxing techniques explored in the West in modern times is deep breathing. This has been a regular feature of eastern spiritual traditions for a long time. The introduction of yoga and Buddhist meditation to the West is what brought deep breathing to American shores. Here are some of the reasons why you should practice deep breathing.
Benefits of breathing deeply
Most people are often stressed out after a day’s work. Deep breathing can help calm your nerves and relax your mind. When you are too stressed, your brain releases a hormone called cortisol. The benefit of this hormone is that it helps you deal with stressful situations efficiently. On the downside, too much of this hormone for too long a time can have negative consequences on your state of mind. Deep breathing slows down the heart rate and allows more oxygen to enter the bloodstream, signaling the brain to relax. In addition, deep breathing also releases a hormone called endorphin that makes you feel good and helps ward off stress.
Deep breathing plays a big role in detoxifying the body. “Breathing releases carbon monoxide… breathing is in charge of 70 percent of cleansing the body of toxins (the other 30 percent is through bladder and bowels.) If you do not breathe fully, your body must work overtime to release these toxins,” according to Urban Balance. Too much carbon monoxide in your system can cause dizziness, headaches, vomiting, and nausea. Since deep breathing brings more oxygen to the blood cells, the body metabolizes vitamins and nutrients in a better way, strengthening the immune system. The increased oxygen supply also aids in the development of muscle tissue.
While performing deep breathing, the movements of the diaphragm massage internal organs like the stomach, liver, small intestine, pancreas, and the heart. A study on heart attack survivors found that those who adopted a deep breathing regimen saw a 50 percent decrease in the risk of another heart attack over the following 5-year period. Another study on heart attack patients discovered that 100 percent of the patients were chest breathers whose breathing patterns had little belly or diaphragm expansion.
People with digestive issues should consider deep breathing since the activity encourages blood flow in the digestive tract, boosting intestinal action. This ends up improving digestion, reducing issues like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Plus, the calmer nervous system also enables optimal digestive activity.
If you have been trying to maintain a youthful appearance, deep breathing can be an aid. Since the activity combats stress and increases the secretion of anti-aging hormones, minimizing the signs of old age becomes easier. A 2013 study found that those who meditated every day for 4 years had longer telomeres, which are protective caps that are found at the end of chromosomes. Having longer telomeres means that there is less chance of premature cellular aging.
Deep breathing technique
One of the most popular deep breathing techniques is the 4-7-8 breathing that has its roots in the yogic practice of pranayama. To perform this, start by sitting or lying down in a position that feels comfortable. Your eyes can be closed or open. However, closed eyes are preferable. Have the tip of your tongue touch the roof of the mouth.
Inhale through the nose until the count of 4. Next, hold the breath for 7 counts. And in the final step, exhale very slowly so that it takes 8 counts to reach the bottom of your breath. Repeat this process for 4 full breaths in the initial stages. When you are experienced in this, you can start practicing the technique for up to 8 breaths.