Breathing deeply, or slow breathing is an ancient exercise used to calm the body, slow heart rate, and bring peace to the mind. You can enjoy the benefits today by learning to breathe deeply through the diaphragm.
In this article, we’ll discuss why breathing is tied to health, and how you can breathe deeply to improve your life.
Breathing is Tied to Health
Some people may not realize that breathing well correlates with living healthy. Even though breathing comes naturally to us, there are better ways to breathe than others. Some of us naturally take shallow breaths or breathe quickly, which is not optimal for health. To breathe well, you need to engage three body parts:
- The lungs The organs that contract in and out when a person breathes.
- The diaphragm The muscle that sits beneath the lungs above the abdominal cavity. It assists up-and-down breathing movement.
- The intercostal muscles The muscles that run between the ribs that help to breathe by allowing the chest cavity to expand and contract.
Breathing deeply is a common technique used for relaxing the body from stress and anxiety. When the body is stressed, it starts the fight or flight response. This leads to fast heart rate, breathing quickly, and high blood pressure. These symptoms are meant to go away as soon as the threat goes away, but in our modern lives, the perceived threat doesn’t always go away. It could be relationship problems, stress about money, or other issues. Breathing deeply sends signals to your body that allow it to relax.
Breathe 5-6 Times per Minute
A normal adult’s respiratory rate is about 12-20 breaths per minute. But when you’re doing breathing exercises, you should aim for 5-6 breaths per minute. Slow breathing can reduce blood pressure and help the body get to a relaxed state.
Starting to breathe deeply may seem weird at first, but if you give yourself some time then you’ll get used to the sensation. Focus on relieving stresses and feeling calm while you breathe. You may want to consider learning a breathing technique.
Best Breathing Techniques
There are many breathing exercises you can practice to add slow breathing to your routine, but the best two are pursed lip breathing and diaphragmatic breathing. Start slowly by doing breathing exercises for two-to-five minutes each day until it gets easier.
- Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing makes breathing slower and more intentional. Start by sitting straight up or standing up. Inhale while puckering your lips and exhaling slowly, often to a count. Pursed lip breathing can relieve shortness of breath, keep the airways open longer, and lead to better overall relaxation.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing fully engages the stomach to take in deep breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing involves lying down on a flat surface with a pillow under the head and beneath the knees. Draw a breath through the nose and let your stomach push outward while the chest remains still. Exhale through pursed lips and let the stomach fall. Once you get more comfortable, you can practice diaphragmatic breathing while sitting up.
Learning to breathe deeply will help you control stress, relax, and possibly even lower blood pressure. If you try to breathe slowly for two to five minutes each day, you’ll notice your stress goes down and your happiness goes up. For more tips on how to live well, head to my website to book a consultation.
- “Pursed Lip Breathing.” – https://www.healthline.com/health/pursed-lip-breathing#benefits
- “What to know about diaphragmatic breathing.” – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diaphragmatic-breathing#how-to-do-it
- “Relaxation techniques: Breath control.” – https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response
- “Vital Signs.” – https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/10881-vital-signs#:~:text=The%20normal%20respiration%20rate%20for,while%20resting%20is%20considered%20abnormal.
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Lisa is the Fitness/Wellness Research Coordinator for the Rutgers University Aging & Brain Health Alliance. She is an Author (YES! COMMIT. DO. LIVE.)- Health & Wellness Speaker and Consultant –Health Coach – Transformational Trainer.