Breathing correctly is vital for your overall wellbeing. The breath serves to nourish the body by bringing oxygen and nutrients to the cells. It is also the source of our prana, or life force energy, and by controlling and deepening our breathing, we can increase the flow of prana within the body. Here are our top deep breathing benefits and deep breathing exercises for you to try at home.
Deep Breathing Benefits You Should Know
Practicing deep breathing exercises every day can help to:
- Manage stress - Deep breathing helps you to manage stress by bringing focus and relaxation to your mind.
- Unwind a busy mind - if you find your thoughts are often out of control and you can't relax or fall asleep, try some deep breathing exercises.
- Relax the body - Increased blood flow helps to relax the muscles. Plus, a calmer mind means you'll be less tense all over.
- Increase prana flow - The breath is the bridge to your prana. When you control your breathing, you control the flow of prana in your energetic body and chakra system.
- Improve memory and concentration - Increased oxygen to the brain and better clarity and focus provide improved memory and concentration skills.
- Release endorphins - Endorphins increase feelings of happiness and wellbeing and help reduce the effects of stress.
- Reduce pain - Endorphins are also the body's natural painkillers, so when you release more endorphins, you reduce pain. Also, when the body is relaxed rather than tense, pain levels will decrease.
- Boost energy levels - Increasing blood flow and prana circulation will both help to increase physical energy levels.
- Detoxify the body - The lymphatic system benefits from deep breathing and will work more efficiently to remove toxins. Also, toxins are released on the breath, so deeper breathing results in more toxins being expelled.
- Reduce inflammation - Detoxification from deep breathing helps move your body from an acidic state to an alkaline state, which will reduce inflammation and lower your risk of chronic disease.
Deep Breathing Exercises: What are the Best Ones?
Many different pranayama exercises focus on deep breathing. Our top two favorites are:
Full Yoga Breath
This breath is performed in and out through the nose. Begin by emptying your lungs completely, firming your abdominal muscles to expel all of the air. Inhale into the bottom of the lungs, expand the belly, then fill the top of the lungs, and expand the chest. Take one more sip of air and hold for a second or two. Exhale in reverse order; empty the chest and then the belly, using your abdominal muscles to empty the lungs completely. Repeat for 3-10 breaths.
Sama Vritti (Square Breath)
Again, this exercise is performed through the nose. Inhale for the count of four, hold the breath on the inhale for four, exhale for four, hold the breath on the exhale for four. Repeat for ten rounds. You can build up to 3 minutes once you feel comfortable with the practice. Additionally, when you feel able, you can increase the count from four to six or eight.