- Feb 02, 2019
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Take A Deep Breath In: About The Practice Of Deep Breathing
“The mind is the king of the senses, but the breath is the king of the mind.” – Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Breathing is an instinctual bodily function; we take thousands of breaths a day without even thinking about it. So why is there a focus on how we should breathe and how can something as basic as breathing make a difference to any aspect of our life?
Well, the answer lies in the depth of our breath. Most of our unconscious breathing which our body does thousands of times a day is characterized by its shallow and unconscious nature. Deep breathing on the other hand is characterized by conscious engagement of the diaphragm and stomach muscles to breathe deeply. This type of breathing has numerous benefits.
It is an easy and effective approach to stress management. It helps alleviate bodily responses to stress like increased heartbeat, shortness of breath, muscle tightness etc. by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which can bring you to a relaxed state. The increase in oxygen can clear a cloudy mind and make you feel more grounded. This entire system works to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and even negative thought patterns.
Deep breathing also relaxes the mind thereby improving the ability to focus, concentrate, and learn. It helps relax your muscles by increasing the amount of oxygen that pours into the cells of your body. By releasing the tension in the muscles, and particularly of the diaphragm, it improves the entire respiratory system. It also eases tension from the intercostal muscles and around the scapula, erector spinae and trapezius muscles, resulting in improved posture. This releasing of tension also eases all sorts of muscles aches and pains.
It also reduces blood pressure while releasing serotonins and endorphins which improve feelings of well-being. Considering that the body is designed to release most of its toxins through breathing, lack of effective breathing can lead to a buildup of toxins in your body. Deep breathing helps by stimulating the lymphatic system resulting in improved detoxification of harmful toxins from the body.
It also improves lung function by restoring lung elasticity. This helps your lungs to effectively push out excess air and improve their functionality resulting in greater detoxification and improved flow of oxygen to your body. It improves your awareness of your own body and increases your energy as well.
All these benefits can have a clear and obvious impact on the largest organ of your body – your skin. Deep breathing also contributes to youthful skin by increasing the secretion of anti-aging hormones whereas shallow breathing has been linked to premature cellular aging.
As simple as breathing deeply through your nose so that your stomach expands and then breathing out slowly through your mouth as though you are blowing out candles, it’s time that we all regain our consciousness and reap the very many benefits of such a simple and yet effective practice.