Hi there! Let’s do an exercise together! Breathe in, breathe out… Breathe in, breathe out… Good, you’re a natural, keep it up while reading this post on the benefits of conscious breathing!
Breathing is our most important body function, and we do it mainly unconsciously. Which means that in our busy (and often stressful) daily life, we probably take up only enough oxygen to survive, practicing an unconscious shallow breath. The good news is, we can change it ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, with basically NO EFFORT, and begin to breathe our way into a calmer, more relaxed and healthy mind and body.
We need oxygen for all the cells in our body to function properly and improving your breathing can help improve your health by basically supporting all body functions! Mentally you feel calmer and with an enhanced ability to focus, you feel more relaxed and balanced, you sleep better and you just feel HAPPY! Physically you digestion improves, your cardiovascular capacity rises (as well as your energy levels and stamina), your body detoxifies more efficiently, your immune system becomes stronger and the benefits of a deeper breathing go on and on and on…
So how do you breathe? There are many forms of breathing, like clavicular breathing, intercostal breathing, abdominal breathing and pelvic breathing, and they all serve a purpose, putting us on different brain wave states for different activities we may be doing, but the one which brings in the most benefits (the most oxygen) for our active lives is abdominal breathing. In abdominal breathing you fill the lungs to about ¾ capacity, the breathing rhythm is slower and it puts you in an Alpha brainwave.
You practice abdominal breathing by inhaling through your nose (always inhale through your nose!), feeling the diaphragm move lower, toward the abdomen, until you feel your lungs are full. Then, slowly start exhaling through your nose and feel the diaphragm rise and the lower abdomen sink toward your spine. This will give you a boost in energy and calm you within minutes, and if practiced often, it will help you regenerate your body and induce a higher level of consciousness!
Here’s an exercise taken from “The Jack Schwarz Method of Autogenics” (check it here on Amazon) to help you enhance your breathing capacity (and health! And happiness!). Practice it whenever you remember it and breathe consciously!
Begin by inhaling for a count of 8, then exhale and hold for a count of 4. Repeat this pattern 2 more times.
Now inhale for a count of 4; hold your breath for a count of 8; exhale for a count of 8; and hold for a count of 4. Repeat 2 more times.
Now inhale for a count of 4; hold your breath for 8; exhale for 16 (YES YOU CAN DO IT!) and hold out for a count of 4.
Now inhale for a count of 4; hold your breath for 8; exhale for 32 (You’re GOOD!!!) and hold out for a count of 4.
If you feel you have no air left before ending the count, just start breathing naturally. After all, the purpose of this exercise is to enhance your breathing capacity! If you’re like me you’ll try to force your lungs to take as much air as possible, and you’ll feel tense on the holding count. Don’t do that, just breathe in until you feel that your lungs are full but you still feel relaxed and comfortable, and know that your air intake capacity will progress much faster than you might think.
When you’re able to do the complete exercise, try another limit, exhaling for 48 instead of 32. You’ll see that the more you practice, the more you’ll be able to control your breath and all the benefits that come from it!
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