Did you know that you can improve your health by changing the way that you breathe? Many of us don’t even pay attention to how we are breathing, as it is something our body just naturally does. Shifting from slow, tight, shallow breathing, into longer and deeper breathing has been shown to transform your body and your state of mind.
Often when we are under stress, our body stays in a heightened sense of alertness, with an increase in blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. With prolonged stress and maintained alertness, the body’s health begins to suffer. Some of the effects noted on the body from prolonged stress include anxiety, depression, heart disease, poor sleep, elevated cholesterol, and even cancer. One of the ways to shift and transform this effect on the body is through deep breathing techniques.
Deep breathing sends your brain a signal to slow things down and to shift into a state of relaxation. Breathing in for a count of four, holding your breath for a count of two, and then breathing out for a count of five, will assist your body with shifting into a more relaxed state. A longer exhale than inhale puts the body into an enhanced state of relaxation.
Take note of how your body is feeling throughout the day. If you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious, shoulders tight, perhaps with a slight headache, or even a little sleepy, pay attention to how you are breathing in that moment. Most likely you are taking tight, shallow breaths that are sitting high in the upper portion of your chest. Train your mind and body to take 5 minutes to shift into a more deep and relaxed style of breathing.
For the following 5 minutes, allow yourself to breathe and relax. Loosen and lower your shoulders. Close your eyes. Take a long deep breath in that goes down to the base of your lungs. Work to fill your lungs as full as they can go. Now hold your breath for a couple of counts. Next, slowly exhale all of that air out of your lungs. Get them as empty as you can. Now repeat the process.
Doing this deep breathing process periodically throughout the day will help train your body to stay in a more relaxed state. You will see improvements in heart rate and blood pressure, you will feel calmer, and your muscles will become more relaxed. With practice, you will be able to increase the length and depth of your breathing, bringing the body to new levels of relaxation and health.