Breathing may not seem like a big deal for someone who’s healthy because it happens involuntarily. It’s something that occurs almost 30,000 times every day, but you might not realize that you’re doing it. Most people don’t think twice about their breathing styles, and that means they can miss out on a lot of benefits.
What more can this biological process contribute to your health apart from its primary purpose? Well, it brings more to the table than just sustaining your body operations. If done properly, it could be a useful tool for mind and muscle relaxation. Good breathing techniques have also proven to be effective in the recovery process of patients suffering from lung cancer.
Do you want to feel happier and healthier without engaging in vigorous physical activities? Try these breathing techniques:
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is one of the easiest, yet most effective technique to try. It involves breathing in through one nostril and exhaling through the other. So, how do you do it? Well, it’s easy!
Position yourself in a comfortable and relaxed posture, such that you won’t strain any muscles after a few minutes. Now, use your right thumb to block the right nostril, and then inhale using your left nostril. Close the left nostril using one of the other fingers, then exhale through the right nostril. Without changing anything, breath in through the right nostril, block it, and exhale via the left nostril. If you’re already here, then you’re done with one cycle. Repeat the same procedure continuously for about five minutes.
You might be wondering how you’ll benefit from this exercise. For one, it enhances the performance of your cardiovascular system. Do you find it difficult to control your heart rate? This technique could help you slow it down and improve your relaxation.
2. Pursed Lip Breathing
Pursed lip breathing is a technique that involves closing your mouth while inhaling, and then exhaling through pursed lips. One takes in air through the nose slowly for two seconds. With the lips set in a ‘whistling position,’ the air is exhaled slowly for about four seconds. This pattern can be difficult to master on your first try, but after several attempts, you’ll get the hang of it.
To get the best out of the pursed-lip breathing method, it’s important that you relax your body before starting. You can do it while seated or standing, but make sure all muscles are relaxed and free from any distractions. Take a minute to release your tongue from the mouth’s roof and drop the shoulders. This is an essential step because it releases tension from your body.
One benefit of this breathing technique is that it ensures enough supply of oxygen to the lungs. This is a great advantage for people with chronic lung disease, like COPD. A person suffering from this condition will usually take shallow breaths, which aren’t effective to sustain their healthy living.
Pursed lip breathing, however, ensures that the airways in the lungs remain open for longer periods. As a consideration, one will experience an efficient flow of air in their respiratory system even with fewer breaths per minute.
3. The Bellows Breath
Do you need an energy boost? Bellows breath might be the best solution for you. This breathing technique involves rapid inhalations and exhalations, with each set lasting approximately one minute. It’s believed to be an excellent stress reliever that promotes your spiritual and mental health. The bellows breath is also one of the best ways to relax your body after a long day’s work.
So, how do you do it? The first step is to sit in a relaxed position, with a straight spine and your eyes closed. Once in this posture, you can then start inhaling and exhaling fast, preferably three cycles per minute. It’s recommended that you don’t hit the 15-second mark on your first try. You can, however, gradually increase the time while ensuring that you take 15- to 20-second breaks.
At the end of this exercise, you’ll feel more alert and ready to go again. Other benefits may include:
- Improved blood circulation
- Enhanced digestion
- Stronger lungs
- Improved appetite
- Better immunity
4. Resonant Breathing
Here’s another very effective breathing technique that can significantly improve your wellness. Also known as coherent, resonant breathing involves making five complete breaths within one minute.
You can achieve this by inhaling slowly for five seconds, then exhaling for the same amount of time. That means every cycle should take between ten and 12 seconds if you count the transition time.
The advantage of this method is that it maximizes your heart rate variability (HRV). HRV basically means the difference between the transition time from one heart beat to the next. If your heart rate is 60 beats per minute, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s one bit every second.
On the contrary, it could mean that there are 0.9 seconds between each beat. However, that number may not be consistent throughout the one-minute cycle. In fact, for others, it could go up to 1.15 seconds. The difference between those two values is what’s referred to as heart rate variability.
The higher the HRV value, the better your body can adapt to its environment. Resonant breathing, therefore, helps increase the HRV, hence, improving your fitness. It may also reduce stress and depression symptoms.
Breathing is one part of your body that many people ignore, especially those who’ve never experienced any related conditions. Nonetheless, it’s essential that you carry out a few exercises every day to strengthen your lungs and maintain a healthy heart rate.
The alternate nostril is one of the simplest breathing exercises, and you can try it while seated on your couch. The bellows breath, purse lip, and resonant breathing are other techniques worth trying. These breathing methods might not seem like a big deal, but they have a significant impact on your wellness in the long run.
For one, if you’re a victim of chronic respiratory diseases, like COPD, pursed lips breathing can enhance the air supply to your lungs. For better results, it’s recommended that you do these exercises several times per day.