How often do you hit your reset button? Well, how often do you take a few minutes to step away from a project or work or your routine and take a deep breath to completely change your focus?

Breathing is naturally done to keep our bodies alive, but to be aware of it we usually have to move our attention to thinking about breathing. There is a big difference between normal day to day breathing (shallow breaths) and taking deep breaths. Deep breathing is taking air from deep in the diaphragm and not solely from the lungs.

Image is from Harvard Health Publications

Deep breathing allows the body to take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide. This leads to many health benefits: a lowering of blood pressure, slowing of heart rate, and relaxation of the muscles. It calms the mind, helping to reduce insomnia. An increase of energy and reduction of fatigue with reduced anxiety and stress are desired effects, also.

Deep breathing is also beneficial to the lymphatic system. This system carries toxins away from cells as the circulatory system carries oxygen to the cells. This exchange helps keep the body in a healthy balance.

In order to take deep breaths I use the three part breath. The three part breath focuses on breathing into your chest, below the rib cage and then filling your stomach with oxygen. Focusing on these parts is helpful to breathe deeply. Here are some steps I have been taught:

1. Inhale through your nose. Continue by filling your chest with oxygen, then fill below your rib cage, and follow with expanding oxygen into your belly (like a balloon). It may help to place your hand on each part of the body to feel the movements.

2. Hold for a few moments.

3. Then start exhaling from your belly, release air from below the rib cage, and then from your chest. Exhale fully from a slightly parted mouth. You should have small movements from each of these areas while you are exhaling.

Take note that exhalation should be twice as long as inhalation.

This type of breathing can be a big help if you ever feel stressed or upset. In general it is something beneficial to practice daily for five to ten minutes. Deep breathing is a good way to reset.

 

For more information about the breathing process and more deep breathing techniques, take a look at Health Hint: Breathing Exercises.


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