The Benefits of Deep Breathing

Now we know how important breathing is, right?  Thankfully, our brain takes care of this without us even paying attention, approximately 17,00-24,000 times per day.  Now if we notice our breathing pattern, its regular, our chest moves up and down, but what happens when you take one of those HUGE deep cleansing breaths? The ones where it actually pushes your belly out?  Well, so glad you asked and I’m about to tell you.

What happens to you physically when you take a Deep Breathe?

Deep breathing (sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing) allows for your lungs to fully inflate.  There are many small blood vessels at the bottom of your lungs. When they become fully inflated you encourage maximum oxygenation.  This type of breathing actually slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure.  Therefore, sending a message to your brain to relax and calm down.

Here is a quick biology lesson.  Your autonomic nervous system controls involuntary actions such as digestion and heart rate.  It is split into two different systems, the sympathetic and parasympathetic.  The sympathetic is your fight-or flight response and the parasympathetic controls your rest and relaxation.  These two parts cannot be turned on at the same time.  So, if you are engaging your parasympathetic system (deep breathing/calm), the sympathetic (stress/anxiety) will be inactivated.  

“For breath is life, so if you breathe well, you will live long on Earth.”  

-Sanskrit Proverb

Deep Breathing Exercise

  • Sit or lie on your back in a comfortable position. 
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose over a 4 second count. 
  • Let your torso expand and push your belly button away from your spine.  Filling your lungs from the bottom up.  
  • Hold for 8 second
  • Now exhale slowly over 7 seconds.
  • This counts as one breath.  Repeat.

Try doing this exercise first thing in the morning before your day has started.  Set the tone for your day.  You don’t have to be in a yoga studio, or a quiet room, try it sitting at your desk, or waiting in line.  A couple of deep breaths can change your outlook on many situations. It may not be easy at first, but as they say practice makes perfect.

Here is a great Ted Talk Breathe to Heal by Max Storm, talking about the benefits of breathing and also a short exercise to follow. Definitely worth the watch.

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