Glamour magazine recently published an article on the importance of breathwork as part of overall wellness. And we couldn’t agree more. Mindful breathing is at the core of the practice of yoga, and when done with focus, we may actually have better health: less stress, better sleep, less anxiety, emotional control, and improved attention. Here are the eight steps to beneficial breathing as suggested in the Glamour article.
Improper posture, along with breathing from your chest instead of your diaphragm could mean you aren’t using your lungs and respiratory system to their maximum capacities. Whether on or off the mat, focus on deep, uplifting inhalations and imagine your body growing taller and straighter.
Breathing from the belly by inhaling slowly and exhaling deeply may take more time and effort than fast shallow breaths, but it’s worth the effort for the increased oxygen and energy you receive. When you breathe shallow, you may weaken your respiratory muscles over time, which again could negatively affect your posture.
We can’t overstate the word slowly here. When you breathe slowly, your brain is happy because it senses that everything is fine and calm. So if you find yourself stressed or anxious, take a series of deep, slow breaths to disengage from those pesky thoughts.
When you’re in a ‘fight or flight’ mode, you tend to inhale longer than you exhale, which can make you even more tense. The reverse is to make the exhale twice as long as the inhale. Maintain this altered breathing pattern for a minute or two and your heart rate will probably slow, your blood pressure will probably drop and you’ll feel more relaxed.
Great for relaxing the entire nervous system and freeing the mind, rhythmic breathing techniques involve repeating a cycle of inhalations, exhalations, and retentions. For example, while taking long, slow breaths, count slowly to 5 as you inhale, and then count slowly to 5 as you exhale for a set period of time.
Diaphragmatic breathing is at the heart of all mediation and relaxation techniques. By focusing and pulling your breaths into your belly, you can reduce your stress, improve your heart health, and even your state of mind.
Breathing is a natural bodily process, but that doesn’t mean you can’t control it to your advantage. When a negative thought is triggered, train yourself to automatically breathe consciously to change your situation.
Moving with the Breath
In the Glamour article, the author suggests this exercise in movement and breath: “Take a pencil and some paper and draw up in time with your inhalation and down in time with your exhalation as though the pencil is being controlled by the movement of your diaphragm. Move across the page for two breaths so that you end up with a rough ’M’ shape… Do you feel any different?”
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