Most of us don’t consciously think about every breath we take, but breathing actually has a significant impact on our health. Adults take around 12-20 breaths per minute. Have you ever stopped to see how you feel when taking those breaths?
How do you breathe when you are worried? How do you breathe when you feel relaxed or when you are falling asleep? What about when you wake up in the morning or feel stressed at work?
Getting acquainted with how we breathe is the first step to using it to lower stress in our bodies because the way in which we breathe affects our whole body. If your breath is short and shallow, you will have higher blood pressure and an increased heart rate. When you have slow, deep breathing helps lower your heart rate and blood pressure.
It also reduces muscle tension. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and best ways to lower your overall stress, and lower stress is always good for better health. The great news is that breathing is something you do naturally every day, so with a few new practices, your own breath can become a place of calm.
One encouraging consideration brought up in a Harvard Medical article is that “the ability to breathe so deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is inborn but often lies dormant. Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.” So, the good news is that anyone can use their breathing to engage in better health.
When you breathe deeply, it sends messages to your brain that have a calming effect. The brain, in turn, sends this message to relax the rest of your body. Those messages lower or stabilize your heart rate, reduce muscle tension, decrease your blood pressure, and generally give you a feeling of calm over all your systems.
When deep breathing is practiced well, it can support the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down our breathing and heart rate and increases digestion. The effects over time of a continued relaxation response for your body and mind are a physical resiliency in the body and a more focused and still mind.
Health Benefits of Deep Breathing
Studies have shown that relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, can help people of any age with a wide range of health issues. Here is a great list of the benefits of deep breathing:
- Lowers blood pressure
- Calms muscle tension
- Supports proper body mechanics
- Decreases overall stress and increases overall calm
- Improves immune system
- Increases energy
- Improves digestion
- Reduces depression
- Helps manage chronic pain
- Improves attention and focus
Breathing Practices for Less Stress
The basis of deep breathing is inhaling slowly and deeply through your nose. The trick is to make sure that your lungs fill with air and that your belly expands. Then, slowly, breathe back out. When you practice a relaxation breathing technique regularly, you will begin to feel better. Even just a few minutes a day can make a big difference to your overall feeling of calm.
Certain parameters can help you optimize your new practice:
- Try to focus your mind when you do your breathing.
- Listen to your heartbeat as you inhale and exhale.
- Work to feel the rhythm in the breathing.
If you want a deeper understanding of breathing techniques, yoga practices are based on deep breathing. Many ancient Eastern practices consider breath as the manifestation in the body of vital energy, especially when you consider that life begins with inhaling and ends with exhaling. Every part of living in between those two respirations is made possible through breathing. At OWM, we have a Yoga studio catered to therapeutic and restorative practices for our clients. We also encourage 5 minute breath-work exercises scheduled 4 times throughout the day as part of our stress management strategy. We recommend rotating Box Breath, Three Part Breath and 4,7,8 breath work to keep the routine engaging.
Our Approach to Better Health
At OWM, we work on a whole-person approach to better health. One piece of our integrative medical practice is Iyengar yoga which stresses alignment and postural balance as a gateway to both inner and outer transformation and healing. We teach breathing exercises along with our advanced approaches to stress reduction and anti-aging.
With our Iyengar Wall Suspension System, we are the only yoga studio in Western New York that has a yoga program that is built on alignment and postural balance as a gateway to both inner and outer transformation and healing. Yoga by OWM is ideal for students new to yoga as well as experienced students and teachers looking to enhance and refine their practice.
Through regenerative and integrative medicine, we work to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul back to a state of complete wellness. Click here if you would like to know more about our regenerative and integrative programs to support you on your wellness journey.