Whether it’s running, swimming or any other sport, you need to have good control over your breath. The ability to take a deep breath and control your breath is essential. Deep breathing not only helps to boost stamina but also reduces stress, promotes relaxation and improves mood.
Deep breathing exercises can help you gain proper control over your breathing and increase your lung capacity. Diaphragmatic breathing or deep breathing has a ton of benefits and centers around the practice of meditation which has been shown to help conditions such as anxiety and depression and sleeplessness. So if you need a confidence or energy boost, try incorporating deep breathing exercises into your day.
Here are some breathing exercises to help you hit your fitness goals and feel better overall:
- Guided meditation technique
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Balanced breathing technique
- Deep belly breathing
What are the Benefits of Deep Breathing?
Deep breathing brings awareness to the breath and helps to control your breath. Learning to breathe deeply and effectively is the most natural way to encourage self-control and confidence. Deep breathing techniques have been shown to have both physiological and psychological effects. One of the biggest benefits of deep breathing is reducing stress.
Studies have shown that breathing exercises can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol as well as have further effects on brain hormones associated with depression and stress. Deep breathing is an underrated practice that can play a huge role in your training and overall well being.
Shallow breathing is often linked to anxiety and stress. This type of shallow breathing often happens when you are in fight or flight mode, signaling the body that you’re not safe. By taking long, deep breaths it fills your body with oxygen, releases tension and brings your heartbeat back to a normal rate. If you are one of the 40 million adults in the United States affected by an anxiety disorder, deep breathing may be able to provide relief.
From improving your mood and self-confidence to building strength and learning to control your breath, it can be a game changer.
Here are a few of the benefits of deep breathing:
- Builds endurance and strength
- Improves core muscle stability
- Lowers stress and anxiety
- Helps you to relax
- Lowers your blood pressure
- Improves speed of recovery
- Controls shortness of breath
- Improves digestion
Incorporating deep, conscious breath into your daily routine is a simple and easy way to boost your mood and reap the benefits.
How to Breathe Correctly
Deep breathing or natural breathing is done through the diaphragm, an organ found under the lungs. Learning to breathe deeply and properly requires a little more than just inhaling and exhaling. You may have heard the term belly breathing which is referred to as pranayama breathing in yoga.
During deep breathing, you not only engage your diagram to expand your rib cage but also breath further into your abdomen. The most basic type of deep breathing is done by inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Focus on your breathing in a rhythmic way that really engages your core. Slow down the process and really hone in on the speed of your breath. Deep breathing can help you de-stress, live longer and be happier.
There are several breathing techniques that will help you learn to control your breathing and see the benefits of deep breathing.
Powerful Deep Breathing Exercises
1. Guided Meditation Technique
A guided meditation is usually performed with a teacher or recorded audio from mental wellness apps such as Headspace. The aim of a guided deep breathing exercise is to help eliminate stress and reduce muscle tension.
Begin either lying down or cross-legged in a comfortable seat. Close your eyes and focus on the guided meditation, visualizing natural surroundings. Take deep, slow breaths and try to clear your mind of negative thoughts. Keep your focus on positive images while breathing deeply. This will help to increase mindfulness and flush out negative thoughts, improving focus and mood.
2. Alternate Nostril Breathing
Alternate nostril breathing gives you a boost of energy and makes you feel revitalized. It can help to soothe your nervous system and encourage quality sleep and relaxation.
Sit comfortably in a seated position. Relax and take a few deep breaths. Bring your right hand to your face and place your thumb on your right nostril, closing it. Shut your eyes and take a deep breath through your left nostril. Hold the breath for one count then cover the left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern for as long as you wish until you feel more relaxed.
3. Balanced Breathing Technique
This breathing technique is ideal for improving lung capacity and shortness of breath. Try practicing this technique just before bed. It can promote relaxation, therefore, improving sleep.
Start by taking a long deep breath through your nose while counting to four in your head. Then, exhale through your mouth counting from four to one. Make sure you breathe deep into the belly. Once you feel you’ve got the hang out of the basics of this technique, start counting to six then to eight on each inhale and exhale.
4. Deep Belly Breathing
Belly breathing often referred to as yogic breathing helps to stimulate the relaxation response, tone core muscles and improve posture.
To try this breathing technique, start either lying down or in a comfortable seat. Bring one hand to your belly and one hand to your heart. Close your eyes and take deep slow breaths, allowing you to feel your hands move up and down with each breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Keep breathing deeply for as long as you need.
If you find breathing deeply awkward at first it may be because you’re used to breathing with your chest. Deep breathing is a natural and free way to take control of your mood and wellbeing. By practicing deep breathing daily and making it a part of your routine, it can help to increase your endurance, strength, focus, and self-confidence.
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