I know what you were thinking when you saw “Breathing” in your mind, you’re saying but I breathe every second, well read along there’s something for you here. Breathing exercise also known as breathwork or pranayama in Yoga is a set of techniques that involves control of one’s breath, the essence of these exercises is to emphasize conscious and international breathing patterns. There are several techniques involved in breathing exercises; Diaphragmatic Breathing, Box Breathing, 4-7-8 Breathing, Pursed-Lip Breathing, and Alternate Nostril Breathing amongst others.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing; is also known as deep breathing, it involves the contraction of the diaphragm muscle to create a deep inhalation, allowing the lungs to fill fully. You can do this while sitting cross-legged or lying on your back with a pillow under your head and your knees bent. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage, and breathe in slowly through your nose so that you feel your stomach rise, and exhale slowly through pursed lips. Your hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
- Box Breathing; also known as four-square breathing, follows a pattern of inhaling, exhaling, and pausing for equal counts. This is very simple to learn and practice, This can be done by breathing in through the nose for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, breath out for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, and keep repeating till you’re done with your exercise.
- 4-7-8 Breathing; also called the relaxing breath, it is best to perform this exercise seated with your back straight, once you get familiar with it, you can perform it while lying in bed. Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale audibly through your mouth for a count of eight.
- Pursed-Lip Breathing; this is also a simple breathing technique, sit in a comfortable position with your neck and shoulders relaxed. Close your mouth and exhale through your nose for two seconds, exhale through your mouth for four seconds, puckering your lips as if giving a kiss, and breathe slowly and steadily while breathing out.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing; also known as nadi shodhana involves blocking one nostril and breathing through the other. Close your eyes or gaze downwards, inhale and exhale, then, close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Close your left nostril, with your ring finger, and open and exhale through your right nostril. Repeat the circle till you’re done with your exercise.
Breathing exercises have several importance such as stress reduction; they activate the parasympathetic nervous system which helps relaxation and reduces the production of stress hormones, which is important for managing stress and anxiety. Consistent breathing exercises increase oxygen supply to the brain, enhancing cognitive abilities. Controlled breathing exercises can help reduce high blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels, enhancing blood flow, and reducing the risk of heart disease. You can incorporate these exercises into your daily routine, taking five minutes to ten minutes to practice them can offer you profound health benefits.