Breathing is one of the crucial processes in the human body. While breathing, an organism completes the gas exchange, supplying the oxygen to the living cells and expelling the carbon dioxide, which is a side product of cell metabolism. This is an automatic function, and we typically do not focus on the breath or try to control it. However, many holistic practitioners, and masters of ancient disciplines such as yoga and Tai Chi, have understood the benefits of controlled conscious breathing. For many of these disciplines, breath control is one of the primary aspects of practice, along with the meditation and physical postures.
Benefits of controlled breathing
Breathing is a completely natural way to fight the stress and promote relaxation. Moreover, focused breathing helps to get a better feeling of identity while helping to get in contact with true self. Controlled breathing can help to fight anxiety and panic attacks, while alleviating overall stress levels. This simple technique is helpful for people suffering from asthma, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure and stress related skin conditions, such as eczema. People suffering from insomnia may also find this technique helpful, as it soothes the mind and slowly induces all of the senses to a more relaxed state.
Breathing and stress
We may never even notice, but the breathing rate changes when a person is under stress. The brain manages the breathing rate according to carbon dioxide levels. An anxious person, under a lot of stress, typically breathes very shallowly, which isn’t good for the body’s balance of gases. Moreover, shallow breathing prolongs the feelings of anxiety promoting associated symptoms such as fatigue, tightness in the chest, panic, lightheadedness, headache, heart palpitations and insomnia.
Breathing to manage stress
There are many different techniques to fight stress with simple breathing. The principle is always the same: to engage in deep abdominal diaphragmatic breathing instead of the shallow chest breathing. Conscious breathing should be practiced every day, for at least a couple of minutes, before it becomes a natural way of respiration. One will need a quiet and relaxing environment without any disturbances to sit quietly and enjoy breathing exercises for 10 to 20 minutes. It is important to sit comfortably and expand the chest while taking deep breaths. One hand can be positioned on the abdomen to feel the movements with each breath. One should concentrate on the breath and try to use only nose for respiration. Diaphragm should expand to the comfortable level, and one should start feeling physical relaxation after only a couple of minutes.