Remember to breathe. It is after all, the secret of life. – Gregory Maguire, A Lion Among Men
Breathing is something we do almost every second of every day and we give it very little thought. You probably think you are an expert at breathing, having done it for so many years now. I know I did. But look down as you breathe. Do you breathe into your chest, abdomen or both? Are you breathing deeply or are most of your breaths just deep enough to get oxygen without too much trouble? Does walking, climbing stairs, or other mild activities cause you to be out of breath? Does any of it matter since you haven’t keeled over yet?
Experts say that deep breathing that increases oxygen to the cells is a factor in a properly functioning immune system and living a disease-free and energetic life with 90 percent of your body’s energy and approximately 96 percent of your body’s nutritional needs being met by oxygen.
Breathing is the first thing we learn to do when we are born. As a baby we naturally inhale deeply, allowing our whole abdomen and chest to rise and fall. Through the stress and tension of life, most of us forget how to properly breathe, only drawing in shallow breaths that allow us to live but not to thrive. This leaves us in a perpetual state of oxygen deprivation
Here are 8 Breathing Exercises to deepen your breathing and promote healthier cells in just 10 minutes:
#1 – The 6:3:6 Breath
- Slowly and steadily breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to 6. Hold your breath for a 3-count. Steadily exhale through your mouth as you slowly count to 6. Repeat. If you cannot make it to a 6-count, start at a smaller number and work your way up.
#2 – Breathing Meditation
- Focus on your breathing during meditation. This will help you to better gauge how deep your breathing is and will assist in quieting the mind. Feel where the breath is coming into your body, is it your nose or your mouth? Is the air coming to one nostril more than the other?
#3 – Mantra Meditation
- Choose a chant or mantra to say slowly, out loud or silently in your mind, as you deeply inhale through your nose. Repeat the chant as you exhale through your mouth. “Om Mani Padmi Hum” is one of my favorite breathing chants as well as a Tibetan Buddhist blessing of compassion. Here are some maxims that may also work as positive chants – https://boyoga.leadpages.co/maxims/.
#4 – Sighing Breath
- Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. Breathe in through the nose ensuring that the abdomen inflates with enough air to stretch the lungs. Exhale through your mouth with an audible sigh. You will feel an emotional release as your stress evaporates into thin air.
#5 – Morning Breath
- Take a long and slow inhale through the nose and then exhale quickly and powerfully through the mouth. This is an excellent breathing technique for when you first awaken in the morning. Remember: If you have a bedmate, for heaven’s sake, please brush your teeth first.
#6 – Breath of Fire
- Inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose. Keep your mouth closed and relaxed. Focus on the exhale and let the inhale take care of itself. Take a break every 15 seconds so (or if the room starts spinning!), longer if you’ve been practicing. You will find that this exercise is noisy and you may want to blow your nose first! Bonus points if you do it while standing in line at the grocery store or bank.
#7 – 4-7-8 Breath
- 4-7-8 breathing consists of placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth right behind your front teeth. All exhaling will be through your mouth around your tongue.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth (but leave your tongue in place) and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 7.
- Exhale completely through your mouth making a whoosh sound for a count of 8.
#8 – Candle Breath
- Breathe in through your nose for 2 seconds. Pucker your lips like you might blow out a candle and breathe out very slowly through your mouth. Your exhale should be 2 or 3 times longer than your inhale. For a challenge, see how far away you can make a candle flicker. Pro challenge, try to make a lightbulb flicker.
Once you feel more comfortable with deep breathing, some of these techniques can be done while you walk or do exercises, such as yoga. What an excellent, and free, way to boost your immune system!
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