Beathing is easy, right? We do it all the time, about six million times a year without giving it so much as a second thought. Breathing is central to life, allowing the body to generate the energy it needs to function. But breath has so much power that we don’t fully utilise. We generally only breathe using our chest rather than the whole diaphragm. If you’ve ever watched a baby breathe, their belly rises before their chest does, giving oxygen to the whole lung system and bloodstream.
Unless we have an underlying breathing condition, breathing exercises can help boost your mood, ease stress, anxiety and panic, help relieve joint pain, help you find focus, help you sleep better, control menopausal symptoms and lower blood pressure, according to an article on Woman and Home magazine (August 2021).
Like every other part of our body, our lungs could do with a workout. Exercising breathing techniques are something we can do anytime, anywhere. Most involve inhaling and exhaling through the nose rather than the mouth, so quite different than breathing techniques used in many mediation practices.
If you’re new to breathing techniques you may feel a bit light-headed at first, this may be due to breathing too hard or too fast, so slow down, or stop and go back to it later. If you find yourself yawning often, this may be a sign that you are not getting enough oxygen.
Healthline gives 10 different techniques for breathing exercises to target specific problems (https://www.healthline.com/health/breathing-exercise) :
- Pursed lips breathing to help you slow down;
- Diaphragmatic breathing, deep belly breathing to help use your diaphragm;
- Breath focus using specific words or phrases;
- Lion’s breath, a yoga practice that helps to relieve tension in your chest and face;
- Alternate nostril breathing for relaxation;
- Equal breathing for focussing on smooth breaths bringing balance and equanimity;
- Resonant or coherent breathing for reducing stress or depression;
- Sitali breath for lowering body temperature and relaxing the mind;
- Deep breathing for feeling more relaxed and centred;
- Humming Bee breath for instant calm and soothing anxiety.
So breathing is not as straight forward as we might think, and for those who suffer with breathing problems, or who have had Covid-19 symptoms, not something to be taken for granted. It is something to be conscious of, and exercise to maximise the benefits.
We are relatively lucky where we are that the majority of the air we breath is clean(ish). We have countryside to get out to open spaces away from the smoke and smog of the cities.
Take a few moments today to concentrate on your breathing, take a few good, deep breaths and fill yourself with oxygen.
In the truncated words of The Police song “Every breath you take, every move you make, I’ll be watching you”. Not really, that would be creepy!
One thought on “Harnessing the power of breath”
That would be creepy ha 😆
I’m aware of most of those types of breathing because of attending so many different styles of yoga class. Hadn’t heard of the menopause one though, so may have to research that one further 🤔