Don’t take breathing lightly! Breath Deep, and you will realize dozens of health benefits with this free and accessible for all health approaches to better health. Deep breathing, also known as “paced respiration,” “diaphragmatic breathing”, “belly breathing” , “abdominal breathing” and “controlled breathing,” has long been a practices of Asian cultures, including Yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi, etc. and now is widely endorsed by western countries and health care practices to manage various conditions.
In fact, according to National Centre for Complementary and Integrated Health, Deep breathing is the 2nd most common complementary health approaches adopted by adults (see table below).
What is Deep Breathing?
In short, the act is to inhale deeply to fill your lung slowly through your nose, hold and exhale slowly through your mouth or nose. Depending on different practices, the duration of inhale, hold and exhale may varies from 4 to 10 seconds or even more. Usually time to exhale should be twice as long then it takes to inhale. Inhale, hold and exhale ratio may varied depending on various disciplines. Some practices also include inhale and exhale through different nostrils, which is believed to trigger different bodily effect. However don’t get too confused all the various variations. Just a simple deep breathing few times a day will bring much benefits to your mind and body. Try the following technique as a start (it’s not the objective of this post to teach you any specific technique):
Inhale in slowly through your nose, allowing your chest and lower abdominal to rise as you fill your lungs. Let your abdomen expand fully and hold for several seconds before exhale out slowly through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural).
Benefits of Deep Breathing
Deep breathing comes with multitude of benefits. Following lists some:
- It reduces stress. Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. It can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure. (Reference: http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response)
- It reduces and manages pain. According to research and studies, deep and slow breathing relaxation (DSB) technique will increase pain threshold. (Reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21939499)
- It fights insomnia with mindfulness meditation. Study shows that mindfulness meditation that involves focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future. It helps you break the train of your everyday thoughts to evoke the relaxation response, can help fight insomnia. (Reference: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726)
- It helps detox our body. Shallow breathing (chest breathing) results in decreased oxygen flow and delivery of nutrients to your tissues and waste products away. Deep breathing allow more oxygen to be absorb by our body, and this helps our body to absorb vitamins and nutrients more efficiently, and it actually creates more white blood cells, helping to speed up the process of out-with the-old, in-with-the-new inside your system. Your lymphatic system is fully charged with lots of oxygen, and this naturally leads to detoxification of the body.
- It lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Slow breathing at 6 breaths per minute increases baroreflex sensitivity and reduces sympathetic activity and chemoreflex activation, suggesting a potentially beneficial effect in hypertension (Reference: http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/46/4/714.short)
The benefit list goes on. All you need is to take some conscious effort to practice this, and you can do this virtually anywhere, anytime at your convenient. It’s safe, easy, scientifically proven, and best of all, it’s free as long as you are in a breathable air condition.