5 simple breathing techniques

5 simple breathing techniques you can do anywhere

 

Breathing. What could be more simple?  Surely there is no need to think about this, we are breathing all the time. But once you begin to focus on your breath, then you realise how often you are not breathing well.

On average, an adult takes 12 to 20 breaths per minute.  Your lungs bring oxygen into the body.  Oxygen provides energy and gets rid of carbon dioxide. Healthy, well functioning lungs have a high capacity.  Think about blowing into a peak flow recorder.  The further the dial moves the more lung capacity you have.  The higher lung capacity the more your body is able to distribute oxygen appropriately.

There are a number of signs you are not breathing as well as you might. The most obvious one is holding your breath.  You may find yourself doing this without realising it, for example when concentrating very hard or lifting something heavy. Another is taking really shallow breaths, this can accompany stress or anxiety. Sometimes what feels like ‘butterflies in the stomach’ is  maybe due to not breathing properly.

Photo by  Robin Benzrihem  on  Unsplash

The benefits of breathing well include:

·       Reduces stress

·       Manages pain

·       Lowers blood pressure

·       Increases lung capacity = increases stamina

·       Manages negative emotions - think of count to ten but with deep breaths

Meditation, mindfulness, Pilates and yoga all focus on breathing techniques as a way of either calming the mind or supporting movement.   But there are also five simple techniques that can be practiced anywhere anytime.

1.     Deep breathing – breathe in until you feel your lungs are full to capacity, pause, exhale until you feel you have expelled all the air and pause again, repeat

2.     4-7-8 breathing – place your tongue behind your upper teeth, breathe out through your mouth, breathe in through your nose with your mouth closed and count to 4, hold counting to 7, breathe out counting to 8

3.     Breathing in, hold, breathe out – breathe in slowly through your nose and feel your stomach expand.  Count to 4 and release your breath through your mouth counting to 8

4.     Abdominal breathing – although this is a technique practiced best laying down, you can do it sitting or standing.  Place one hand on your lower stomach.  Inhale through your nose and push your hand out, chest should not move.  Breath out (with pursed lips if you aren’t in a public place where this might look a little odd)

5.     Equal breathing – breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for four seconds, breath out for four seconds, as you practice you may be able to increase the count number in each of the stages

Remember, practice makes perfect!