There’s a lot of talk these days about the benefits of deep breathing. The conversation is not new. Breathing techniques have been advocated for centuries, especially by ancient religious masters. Scientific studies show that controlled breathing can reduce stress, increase mental focus and enhance immune function.
There are a variety of descriptions for breathing practices, most notably “deep breathing” and “diaphragmatic breathing.” Both are defined by experts as integrative body-mind training using breath control through inhalation and exhalation.
Here are four exercises to try
Use the following exercises when you find yourself feeling tense, anxious, or stressed. They can be especially useful at the outset of a workout or when you’re trying to shake off the effects of a busy day.
• Sit or stand tall.
• Take a breath in and thoroughly exhale, expelling all the air out of your lungs.
• Inhale naturally. Allow your lungs to naturally fill with fresh air.
• Repeat, thoroughly exhaling and thoroughly inhaling.
• Notice how your lungs become like a vacuum, completely filling.
• Repeat for two minutes.
• Sit with relaxed neck and shoulders, or lie down with knees bent.
• Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
• Take a breath in through your nose and notice your belly rise. Do your best to maintain a still chest.
• Exhale through your mouth as you push the air out with assistance from your abdomen.
• Continue for two to five minutes.
Fist Clench with Diaphragmatic Breath
• Clench your fists tightly as you take a deep diaphragmatic breath, and hold it for a count of ten.
• Exhale thoroughly and completely, as you let your body go limp.
• Repeat five to ten times.