The belly breath of pranayama - Deepstash
The belly breath of pranayama

The belly breath of pranayama

  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. 
  • Breathe in through your nose and fill your lungs from the bottom up, first expanding your belly, then your chest, and finally raising the collar bones. 
  • Pause. 
  • Then gently exhale from top to bottom, using your stomach muscles to push out the last of the air. 
  • Pause. Then repeat.

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Controlling your breathing
Breathing is the only autonomic system we can wrest control of.

Controlled breathing techniques can get one autonomic system under control and in turn affect others (like the heartbeat), alleviate momentary anxiety and longer-term emotional stress, and perhaps even improve physical and cognitive health outcomes.

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Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

However, studies suggest that breathing exercises alone, derived from those ancient yoga practices, can be good for the body and mind. 

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Breathing in meditations
In the first half of the 20th century, deep breathing began to emerge on its own as a relaxation method.

Every relaxation, calming, or meditation technique relies on breathing, which may be the lowest common denominator in all the approaches to calming the body and mind.

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Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

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Breathing and yoga
Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention. 

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Belly breathing

Normal human breathing at rest should raise the belly, not the chest.

To relax during a particularly stressful moment, take three slow, deep belly breaths to interrupt the fight-or-flight response.

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How it’s done:  Inhale for a count of 4, then exhale for a count of 4, all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Once you manage it, you can go up to a count of 6.

It calm the nervous system, increase focus and reduce stress.

When it works best: Anytime, anyplace — but this is one technique that’s especially effective before bed.

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Breathing: Need To Know
  • Respiration influences many of the processes in our body that have a direct impact on our physical and mental health. 
  • Each day, we take around 20,000 breaths.
  • With every inhalation, our heart rate speeds up, and with every exhalation, it slows down. 
  • The nervous system is especially sensitive to changes in breathing rate. 
  • Through our breath, we can change our state from stress to relaxation, or from feeling dull to being energized. Longer-term, through being more attentive to the way we breathe, we can benefit our health and longevity. 

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Breathing Techniques for Muscle Tension Relief
  1. Stand up straight and bend forward at the waist. Bend knees slightly, letting your arms hang limply, close to the floor.
  2. Inhale slowly and deeply, and return to a standing position by slowly rolling your body up, lifting your head last.
  3. Exhale slowly as you return to your original position.
  4. Stretch your muscles a little, and repeat.

Try this breathing technique first thing in the morning. It can help minimize muscle tension throughout the entire day.

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