We are all born with the basic instinct to breathe.
Inhaling and exhaling is second nature to us. But many of us aren’t breathing as fully or as deeply as we could. Our breath is key to our survival, but the ancient yogis also believed that breath is key to vitality and that yogic breathing practices, called pranayama, can have beneficial effects on our quality of life.
Mindful breathing—paying attention to your breath and learning how to control it—is one of the most effective ways to lower stress levels and improve a variety of health factors ranging from sleep quality to metabolism.
The many benefits of deep breathing include a reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. Deep breathing also promotes better blood circulation, helps to release toxins from the body and aids in better sleep, resulting in increased energy levels. Focusing on your breathing during physical activities, such as exercise, can help you become more mindful of your body and improve your self-awareness.
How it's Done
Siting in a comfortable position, with hands resting on knees and shoulders relaxed, begin by exhaling all the breath from your lungs. Breathe in through your nose. Exhale slowly through your nose while you count to five. Tighten or tense your abdominal muscles. At the end of your breath, pause for two counts, then inhale slowly while you count to five. Expand your belly as you breathe in. Close your eyes and continue to slowly inhale and exhale, five to 10 times.
If your mind wanders during this exercise, don’t worry. Refocus on your counting. You will become more aware of your breathing and will find that it becomes easier to breathe deeply without overthinking it.