Deep Breathing: Breathing Better To Live Better

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Breathe in, Breathe out. Simple as that right?

Sure breathing is just in and out, but when you breathe “correctly” or practice certain techniques, it can be much more beneficial to your health including:

  • Less Stress
  • Better Digestion
  • Less inflammation
  • Higher awareness
  • More relaxation
  • Stable blood pressure
  • Better mood
  • Better relationships

Crazy right? Personally, I have been working on breathing techniques for about 6-7 years. I started working on these techniques after I was diagnosed with spontaneous vocal cord disorder. This disorder causes a restriction of the vocal cords and ultimately causes wheezing. Due to this ongoing wheezing, I visited a breathing specialist where she advised me on how to breath better, and deeper.

Along with that, I rely heavily on my breathing as I compete in competitive shooting. As a competitive shooter it is imperative to control your breathing, which reduces the heart rate so that the gun can remain steady.

My experience with controlled breathing has come from numerous instructors including Tai Chi experts and even world class Olympians. These breathing techniques have also helped me off the field as well.

I use them to alleviate stress during tests, stress at work, periods of high anxiety and even to relieve muscle tension. Because of this extensive training, I now have the ability to better control my body during highly emotional situations.

There are a few breathing techniques I mainly focus on that I am very excited to share with you. They begin with deep breathing, which after some practice, will eventually become your lifestyle.

You should try to breathe like this subconsciously 24/7, although, that is a lot easier said then done. Try starting off with picking one, setting 20 minutes a day for some much needed “me time”, create a relaxing environment, and in the ever beautiful words of Shania Twain, just breath. With this technique, you allow your body to experience the optimal amount of air for the greatest mental and physical benefits.

Other techniques that I frequently practice are PMR or Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Alternate Nostril Breathing and Bunny Breaths. These techniques help to relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and allow you to achieve “fuller” breaths in desperate times.

Here are a few exercises to gain the full benefit of each technique:

Deep Breathing:

Benefit:

  • Optimal air for the body, improving mental and physical health

Technique:

  • Breathe in through your nose for 5 seconds filling your stomach
  • Hold breath in for 5 seconds
  • Release breath for 5 seconds emptying your stomach
  • Hold for 5 seconds

Tip:

  • To do stomach breaths correctly for beginners- lay flat on your back on the floor or bed, place some sort of object, such as a rubber duck, on your stomach. While you fill your stomach, watch the object (or duck) rise as your stomach fills, and lower as you release the air from your stomach

PMR, Progressive Muscle Relaxation:

Benefit:

  • Relieves muscle tension throughout the body and reduces stress

Technique:

  • Begin at your feet; tighten/ tense your feet by scrunching your toes and foot. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then release the tension by relaxing your foot
  • Begin to do that to each part of your body for full tension relaxation
  • feet>calves>butt>stomach>fingers>hand>wrist>arm>shoulder>neck>face

Bunny Breaths

Benefit:

  • Reduces anxiety and improves troubled breathing

Technique:

  • Take 3 very short, fast, shallow breaths in, followed by 3 very short fast breaths out wards
  • Do this 3-5 sets or until you can breathe normally again

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Benefit:

  • Relieves stress, headaches and anxiety

Technique:

  • To begin, use your thumb to block your right nostril, so air cannot enter or exit that nostril
  • Take a deep breath in through the left nostril and hold it in
  • Release your thumb and place it on the left nostril
  • Release the breath through the right nostril
  • Now breathe in through the right nostril (still blocking the left nostril)
  • Hold
  • Release thumb from blocking left nostril and place thumb over right nostril and place thumb over right nostril
  • Continue this process

I can speak from first hand experience that each of these techniques truly works. So I challenge you; try doing deep breathing (or another technique of your choice) everyday for a week, then extend that week to a month. Before you know it, these techniques will become second nature and you should see improvements in your overall health. Breathing right is a step towards a better life. A Striven life.

About the Author Nicholas Rizzo

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