Deep breathing has been used for centuries to facilitate relaxation, improve mobility, and improve the body’s ability to move efficiently. Deep breathing techniques allow you to tap into the autonomic nervous system, which controls the polar “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” settings of your body.
Deep Breathing For Relaxation
Begin your deep breathing technique practice by lying upon your back with your hips and knees flexed and feet flat on the floor. This posture allows you to take strain away from your abdominal and hip muscles that may be dominating your natural breathing patterns, giving your diaphragm more freedom to move. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly button to monitor what moves during breathing. In a perfect deep breathing pattern, the hand on your belly will move directly toward the ceiling and the hand on your chest will remain relatively still. With your mouth closed and chin tucked, breathe in slowly through your nose. Many stressed people breathe too quickly, which upsets the body’s delicate chemical balance. It should take about four seconds to inhale completely and deeply. If your hand on your belly moves towards your face, consider elevating both feet on a chair or bench with your knees still bent, as this is a sign that your abdominals are dominating your breathing patterns. Breathe out slowly, which should take at least six seconds. Be sure to breathe out completely to prepare your body to naturally begin the next breath. Pause briefly after exhaling, but not to the point where you feel as though you must gasp for the next breath. Repeat the breathing cycle for up to 15 relaxed minutes.
Monitor your progress using a heart rate monitor. When deep breathing is done properly, you should be able to lower your heart rate significantly compared to the beginning heart rate. Some heart rate monitors also have a function that measures something called heart rate variability, which allows us to see the impact of the autonomic nervous system.
Kapalabhati breathing is a yoga technique involving deep breathing to enhance the energy flow within the body. In a seated, crossed leg, position begin with slow, deep breathing for four breath cycles with emphasis on expanding your lower ribs and filling your belly with air to develop awareness of the appropriate pattern. Once you have the pattern set, inhale deeply, filling your ribs and then forcefully and quickly exhale and immediately inhale again. Done properly, your breathing patterns will be short and powerful, but still into the lower ribs and belly, not into your shoulders. Repeat the cycle up to 10 times before taking several deep, relaxing breaths. Perform up to six cycles of kapalabhati. Kapalabhati can be utilized in any position and at any time during the day when you need a boost in energy.
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