What are the Benefits of Breathing Exercises?

March 1, 2010 09:32 by Angela

As we go about our busy day working, job hunting, attending classes, studying assignments, taking care of the family or whatever activities that comes with life, we may feel stress, tension and/or anxiety. You just want to escape and find peace of mind and relaxation. In today’s economy, you may not have the money to hop on a jet and fly away to an exotic island. But you can close your eyes, take a deep breathe and exhale while imagining that place of leisure.

Deep breathing exercises are relaxation techniques that reduce tension and stress from the body. It helps to clear the mind while improving the physical, mental and spiritual health of the whole person in a matter of seconds. They are easy to do. It just requires finding that calm and quiet place in your home, on the job, in your car or in your thoughts.

Breathing exercises consist of the following:

1. Good Posture. Get a chair with back support to avoid slouching and sit up straight.

2. Take a deep breathe by inhaling completely through your nose. Place your hands on your abdominal area which is just above your waist and feeling your chest inflates as the lungs fill with oxygen.

3. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth as your chest gradually deflates as the oxygen leaves the body.

Breathing is the most vital function of the body. It is automatic. "The primary role of breathing is gas exchange: our cells need oxygen and their waste product, carbon dioxide, needs to be expelled… Many holistic practitioners believe that the breath is the link between the physical body and the ethereal mind, and that spiritual insight is possible through conscious breathing". However, the way that we breathe is controlled by our brain. Shallow breathing is a response to stress or anxiety. Deep breathing exercises assist by balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood signaling the brain and relaxing the mind. They can lower one’s blood pressure while reducing the stress level creating a more calming and relaxating state of mind.

Other forms of breathing techniques include:

  1. Control breathing used in Lamaze classes by expectant mothers that focuses rhythmic breathing and changing the woman's attention from the pain of labor to the breathing exercise.
  2. Pranayama Yoga promotes proper breathing while exercising by bring more oxygen to the blood and to the brain, and to control Prana or the vital life energy.
  3. Aromatherapy is the practice of breathing in different plant oil fragrances that create a psychological and physical calmness of the body as a whole.

"When the Breath wanders, the mind is unsteady, but when the Breath is still, so is the mind still." - Hatha Yoga Pradipika

For more information on breathing techniques or exercise, check out these websites:

Pranayama - The Art of Yoga Breathing
http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/pranayama/

Abdominal Breathing for Labor and Birth by Robin Elise Weiss
http://pregnancy.about.com/od/naturalchildbirth/a/relaxation.htm

Deep Breathing Exercises
http://www.stress-relief-exercises.com/deep-breathing-exercises.html 

What is Aromatherapy?
http://www.aromaweb.com/articles/wharoma.asp



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