Breathing has a significant impact on both physical and emotional health. Changing the way you breathe and becoming more conscious about your breathing can make a big difference in your life. Here, Russell Jack, Southland-based yoga and mindfulness teacher, shares simple tips for improving your breathing.
People who study the relationship between mindful breathing and stress reduction, more energy, better sleep, and overall better health soon realize that those who doubt the benefits of conscious breathing have not tried these techniques. If you try the following breathing techniques, you will most assuredly learn an increased ability to relax, more energy, and better health.
Stress is what most often keeps you from relaxing. Anxiety about your day or just stress about your inability to sleep can keep you awake at night.
According to the American Institute of Stress, an excellent way to combat stress is to use the Pursed Lip Breathing technique. This technique is accomplished by:
- Relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
- Inhale for two counts (mouth closed). Do NOT take a deep breath. Just take a normal breath.
- Pucker or “purse” your lips — as if you’re going to whistle, gently flicker the flame of a candle, or drink through a straw.
- Exhale slowly and gently through pursed lips for four counts.
Practice 4-5 times a day to perfect the breathing pattern to where it feels natural.
Other benefits of the Pursed Lip Breathing technique include:
- Improves ventilation
- Releases trapped air in the lungs
- Keeps the airways open longer and decreases the work of breathing
- Prolongs exhalation to slow the breathing rate
- Relieves shortness of breath
Try the 4-7-8 sleep breathing technique to help you float quietly into a restful sleep. The 4-7-8 breathing technique, also known as “relaxing breath,” involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
Many people turn to caffeine in the mornings to give them the energy needed to start their day. If you would like to find a caffeine-free way to get your day started, try the Bellows Breath technique.
Also known as the Stimulating Breath technique, this breathing activity has its origins in yoga. It stimulates the diaphragm and signals the body to boost alertness. While keeping your mouth closed, inhale and exhale quickly through your nose with short, quick breaths. Do this for about 10 seconds, breath normally, give yourself a break, and repeat several times. It may be a little noisy, so be sure to warn your domestic partner in advance.
You will have more energy for productive and enjoyable activities in your life if you can control your stress. Stress-induced emotions consume massive amounts of energy. Relaxation therapies like Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and meditations are also useful tools for reducing stress.
Your overall good health is dependent on your ability to relax, avoid stress, and have enough energy to stay active.
Practicing proper breathing techniques is vital to athletes, singers, and enthusiastic exercisers. These practices not only help you reach peak performance, but are also helpful in reducing stress, anxiety, and shortness of breath.
About Russell Jack
Russell Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is passionate about animal rights protection, regularly volunteering with the World Animal Protection Organization and donating to protect endangered species in New Zealand.