16 Benefits, Plus How To Try It At Home?
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Improve focus, circulation, blood pressure and mental health, claim the pros.
If you caught any of the Glastonbury festivities last weekend—or were lucky enough to be there IRL—you may have noticed Billie Eilish explaining the benefits of breathing training to his crowd. Not only that – she actually raved about its stress-relieving properties to 100,000 audience members to practice with her.
You’ve probably heard of meditation, yoga classes and expressions and, of course, we all breathe every day, but did you know that training your breath can reap a whole heap of health benefits—especially , less chronic stress, stable blood sugar and better metabolism?
Celebrities like Eilish, Fearon Cotton, Selena Gomez, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Gisele Bundchen reportedly swear by the ancient practice. So – what’s involved and how can you use that unlocked ability yourself? All good questions – for answers, keep reading, and while you’re here, don’t forget to check out our guide to self-care ideas.
Breathing Training: Your Guide
What is breathing?
According to Neeraj Naik, a UK-based certified pharmacist turned holistic health, mind-training and breathing specialist soma breathBreathing training is a technique done with conscious effort. “By consciously changing your breathing patterns, you can experience many physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits,” he shares.
Breathe Coach, CEO of AMCK Dance & Fit and former GB Commonwealth Gymnast aicha mackenzie Agree, adding that this is one of the simplest, cheapest and most effective ways to optimize your well-being. “It’s simple yet so transformative,” she explains. “Simply put, it is a practice centered around the mind-breathing-body connection.”
If you’re stressed, you’ll probably hear “just breathe.” hurt yourself? “Breathe, breathe, breathe.” give birth? “Keep breathing.” When you start to think about it, you realize that so many calming or soothing rituals focus on your breath and use your power without you even realizing it. Mackenzie believes it to be the lowest common denominator of all methods of calming the body and mind.
“When we’re feeling calm, relaxed, and safe, your breathing becomes deeper and slower—you’ve slipped under the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system, which has a relaxing effect,” she shares.
benefits of breathing
A little background first – Breathing training, otherwise known as conscious breathing, is an ancient practice whose roots begin in the East, explains Mackenzie. “For five millennia, along with yoga, tai chi, and Buddhism, yogis have believed that expanding your breath, in turn, expands your life,” she shares.
Research shows that breathing exercises can improve your physical and mental health, including:
- improve stress response
- Improving and stabilizing blood pressure
- slow heart rate
- strong immune system
- Improving sleep quality (read our guide to how to get sleep and treat insomnia here).
- positive change in our mindset
- peace of mind
- emotional regulation
- wake up dysfunctional brain functions
- increase creativity
- Create elevated states of consciousness and motivation
- Improve brain function and mind power
- Cleanse and purify the bloodstream and lymphatic system
- activate stem cells
- encourage self healing
- Reduce depression/anxiety.
How does the trachea actually work?
Another good question. You might be scratching your head thinking that you breathe all the time anyway.. But as the experts explain, breath-breathing training describes specific breathing techniques that unlock health benefits. Huh.
It is using your breath and using it in a way that benefits you.
feeling overwhelmed? Don’t. It’s very easy and will only take ten minutes out of your routineMcKenzie insisted. Not sure how breathing can do all of the above? Let him explain
switching on your parasympathetic nervous system
She shares that deep breathing helps reduce stress. “When you become stressed or anxious, your brain releases a stress hormone called cortisol and your body enters the sympathetic nervous system which induces flight, fight or freeze mode. Deep breathing with long breaths The body goes to the parasympathetic nervous system, which communicates to the brain to relax and release your endorphins, aka feel-good chemicals.
muscles relax and blood vessels dilate
Similarly, deep breathing lowers blood pressure. “As your muscles relax, it allows your blood vessels to dilate, which improves circulation and lowers blood pressure. Deep breathing also slows and regulates the heart rate, which lowers your blood pressure.” Also helps to reduce, ”explain the expert.
Fully oxygenated blood = better body function
“Up to a point, the more oxygen there is in the blood, the better our body functions,” shares Mackenzie. “It also improves our stamina.” And did you know? When your blood is fully oxygenated, it takes in and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more efficiently. “Essentially, the clearer the blood, the harder it is for diseases to stay in your system,” she shares.
cleaning up toxins
Another fun fact: Your breath manages to cleanse the body of 70% of toxins (the other 30% is through the bladder and intestines, the expert shares). “If you don’t breathe fully, your body needs to work overtime to release these toxins,” she shares.
“The diaphragm is the main muscle used for breathing and when fully used gives massage to your internal organs. The deeper you breathe, the deeper the massage and the healthier blood flow you will create, which in turn Promotes your organs to function more effectively, including your intestines.”
Breathing Techniques: 6 to Try
Ready to dive in and do breathing training at home? Try the following.
1. Box Breath
This is a technique where you’ll be taking slow, deep, even breaths, shares Mackenzie. “This exercise can improve performance, energy, and concentration, and it’s also quite a powerful stress reliever,” she explains.
Step One: Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four. Pay attention to your breath – if another thought enters your mind, don’t worry, don’t judge, just try and bring that attention back to your breath and empty your lungs.
Step Two: This time inhale slowly through your nose for another count of four. Can you feel the air in your lungs? Can you feel your belly rising? It’s perfect: Always try to breathe from your belly, not your chest.
Step Three: Hold that breath for another count of four.
Step Four: Exhale again for four. Because all these steps are for the same count (four), it works as a cyclic exercise, so you can repeat it as many times as you want.
2. Savitri Pranayama and Slow Laxative:
This technique has powerful relaxation effects on the body and mind, shares Naik. Read how to here or breathe along the video.
Step One: Sit comfortably, in an upright position, keeping your back straight. Inhale completely into your diaphragm through your nose for 4 seconds, filling your lungs with air. Place your hand on your stomach to make sure it rises before your chest.
Step Two: Exhale completely through the mouth for 8 seconds, without using any force. When you exhale, inhale completely again without any force. Create a consistent and smooth rhythm.
Step Three: Repeat this 20 to 30 times and then take a full inhale, clenching your lips gently, allowing the air to slowly exit your mouth as if you were breathing through a thin straw. Do a body scan to make sure you are not straining any of your muscles while exhaling.
Step Four: As you exhale, imagine an ocean wave of relaxation running down the front of your body, from the crown of your head to your toes.
3. Tummo Breathework
See accompanying for complete instructions.
4. Wim Hof Breathing
Watch the video to try.
5. Alkaline Breath and Fire Breath
Watch the video to try.