Throughout history, the breath has been associated with life itself and has been considered almost sacred. Many cultures have developed various breathing techniques that are purportedly beneficial to the body. Only in the last century or so have the benefits of deep breathing exercise been demonstrated scientifically.
Deep Breathing Benefits
Breathing oxygenates the blood and deep breathing boosts the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to the tissues. However, the majority of us are shallow breathers. That is we don’t push very much air deep into our lungs. The reason for this is probably the society that we live in. The majority of us aren’t out on the savanna, chasing down gazelle with a spear. We sit in office cubicles or in front of the television. And when we do move around, we tend to drive wherever we want to go. And we’ve been taught to sit still ever since we were children in classrooms. True, many of us take up exercise, such as running to get fit. Unfortunately, the habit of shallow breathing is hard to break and while exercise is good, breathing deeply for one interval a day is not enough.
Deep breathing begins with breathing from the abdomen. Place your right hand on your abdomen and your left hand on your chest and breathe as you normally do. If your left hand rises more than your right, then you are a shallow breather. There are many factors that contribute to shallow breathing, including poor posture that compresses the abdomen. Shallow breathing can lead to problems over time, including fatigue, tension and stress, even in non-stressful situations. Breathing shallow is part of the normal fear reaction and consistent shallow breathing can actually induce other elements of that reaction such as increased heart rate and sweating. So, a very important benefit of deep breathing is a more calm and relaxed body.
Deep breathing also has a number of other benefits.
* It can increase your stamina as more nutrients and oxygen consistently reach muscle tissue.
* It can improve your lung capacity over time by exercising the muscles that expand and contract the lungs.
* You will have a calmer response to stress and will remain more relaxed.
* Deep breathing can improve sleep and decrease waking up in the middle of the night.
* It can improve concentration and promote cleared thinking as more oxygen gets to the brain. * Perhaps one of the best benefits is an increase in self awareness.
We tend to ignore ourselves in this get- it- done-yesterday world. Pausing for deep breathing exercise can have a very centering and clarifying effect. And so, the purpose of deep breathing is more than just getting more oxygen. It’s a part of being human and a part of any worthwhile fitness program.
“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.” ~ Thừa ThiênHuế
Don’t Forget: click here >Learn to Breathe
This article was also published on the Ezine website August 9, 2013.