A Deep Breathing Practice for Daily Life
There is one thing, at least, that is agreed upon by medical practitioners and healers from all different schools of thought: The importance of proper breathing in your mental, physical and emotional health.
Most of us lucky enough to have a healthy pair of lungs tend to take breathing for granted. It’s something that happens automatically and involuntarily.
It’s only in a moment when our breathing is constrained or restricted does the ‘without this next breath I’m done for’ thought really arise. Despite this automatic, inherent and life-defining function of our bodies, most of us don’t breathe efficiently. This can be the result of posture, inactivity, stress, or muscle constraint.
Why It’s Important
Whatever the cause, we usually engage in shallow breathing, using only a little of our lung capacity, and leaving stagnant air behind. And since lots of oxygen is a key factor needed for healthy cells and every other function of our body, improving our breathing is incredibly important.
Proper breathing is also a powerful way to relax your nervous system, activate your lymphatic system, stabilise blood pressure, and take your body out of ‘fight or flight’ response.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to begin integrating a deep breathing practice into your daily routine. Deep breathing and awareness of breath is central to all yoga practices, and as it has grown in popularity, the understanding of its impact has become widespread.
Having control of your breath, even for short and intentional amounts of time, can allow you to check into your mental, emotional and physical state, reduce stress and anxiety, and even stop a panic attack in its tracks. It also helps to make you conscious of your breathing during the rest of your day.
A Simple Technique
- Pause and draw your attention to your breathing for a few breaths.
- When you are ready, consciously breathe in slowly through your nose feeling the breath travel right down your body and pushing out your belly (put your hand on your belly to feel it rise).
- Then release the breath even more slowly through your nose.
- Do 10 more breaths like this counting to at least 3 or 4 on the in-breath and 6 or 7 on the out breath.
It is encouraged to do this daily, even twice if you can manage it. As you do, be aware of how you notice tension release, how you might become aware of emotions you have blocked, and how your mind becomes clearer.
At first, you might find one nostril is stuffier, that you can’t reach the count for intake or exhale without significant effort, or that you need to concentrate too hard to relax. Don’t despair, once you get used to the rhythm and practice, it will become…as easy as breathing!
There are a variety of different breathing sequences to choose from, so please check out the video and resource list below to find the right fit for you. We would also love to hear your experiences in the comment section.
List of Resources: