Proper breathing for better health

Breath is akin to the free energy of the sun. Breathing is a proven way to regulate our emotional state and the energy is always accessible and easy to use.

Some Eastern religions placed importance on the vital “qi” or ”prana” that flows through the body, a kind of energy or internal breath that will give a person vitality and good health.

Advice for how to control breathing and influence health and mind appeared in literature centuries ago. Pranayama or breath retention in yoga was the first doctrine to build a theory around respiratory control, holding that controlled breathing was a way to increase longevity and vitality.

In the 1920s, German psychiatrist Johannes Heinrich Schultz developed “autogenic training” as a method of relaxation. His approach is based on slow and deep breathing and is probably the most popular breathing technique for relaxation practised in the Western world.

Not surprisingly, every relaxation or meditation technique relies in some way on effective breathing.

Five Techniques for Effective Breathing and Relieving Stress

Here are some commonly used breathing techniques. Five to 10 minutes of exercise can relieve sporadic stress.

Stand Up Straight

Posture is important for breathing: hold yourself straight, without stiffness, shoulders back, sitting or standing. Good posture enables your body to breathe properly on its own.

Observe Your Breath

Simply observe your respiratory movements: be aware of each inhalation and exhalation. Focus on the rhythmic sensations you feel as air passes through your nose and throat and the movements of your chest and stomach. When you feel your thoughts drift, simply redirect your attention back to your breath.

Rhythmic Breathing

At the end of each inhalation, pause briefly while mentally counting “1, 2, 3” and holding the air before exhaling. This counting can also be done after exhaling or between each inhalation or exhalation.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Breathe in and out slowly through one nostril, holding the other one closed using your finger; then reverse and continue by alternating regularly. What is most important, aside from slowing the breathing rhythm, is breathing through the nose, which is more soothing than breathing through your mouth.

Think Reassuring Thoughts While Breathing

With each breath, think soothing thoughts such as “I am inhaling calm and serenity”. With each exhalation, imagine that you are expelling your fears and worries with thoughts such as “I am exhaling stress and toxins.”

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