What Is Mindful Breathing?
We are always breathing, yet rarely do we stop and pay attention or notice this vital life force. However, research shows that our lives can be significantly improved through breath work exercises. Implementation of various mindful deep breathing exercises can help manage different types of health-related issues such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and more. Training ourselves with breath control can be used in conjunction with other therapies and meditation practices to help provide stress management and anxiety relief without the use of medications or drugs. The science and evidence of breathing benefits are thousands of years old and have the power to help anyone.
Deep breathing exercises may help aid with:
• chronic pain and worry
• grief, depression, anger and insomnia
• mental and physical illness
• trauma and PTSD
Mindful breathing techniques allow you to be present and conscious throughout your day by focusing on your breath. This plays a key role in improving your mental health and wellbeing. Mindful breathing techniques are used in different forms of therapy like dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
Daily stress and anxiety can also have detrimental long term health consequences. When we are stressed, the “fight or flight” response is activated with short and shallow breaths. We can override this reflex with long and slow deep breaths that activate our parasympathetic nervous system. Regular practice of mindful breathing can signal our autonomic brain and stimulate the Vagus nerve to help our body rest and relax. This helps to balance inflammation, stress hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, and other physical conditions. Scientific studies show how mindful breathing creates positive neurocognitive, psychophysiological, biochemical, and respiratory changes. Breathwork exercises usually acts upon the autonomic and central nervous systems, cardiovascular, respiratory, and cardiorespiratory systems.
Benefits of Mindful Breathing
Some of the common benefits of mindful breathing can involve:
- lower blood pressure and slow heart rate
- calm, relaxation and joy
- reduced depression, anxiety, and stress levels
- improved immune system
- improved focus and productivity
- more creativity
- reduced insomnia and sleep disorders
- relief from tension and pain
- reduced effects of diabetic symptoms
- control over emotions
- overcome fears
- reduce addiction withdrawal from quitting smoking or vaping
- increase lung capacity and strength from issues such as COPD and asthma
Amazing Mindful Breathing Techniques
There are a wide range of natural mindful breathing techniques to boost self-awareness and improve your quality of life. You made have heard of Wim Hof breathing, but there are many more. Some of the most common methods are:
365 or Rythmic Method – This type of breathing technique involves cardiac coherence (CCT) that uses biofeedback to manage heart rate variability (HRV). In other words, the 365 method helps to manage the time between consecutive heartbeats. Steady and slow breath can stabilize the heartbeat. About 5 minutes of this practice regularly can help people struggling with chronic anxiety, pain, stress, phobias, or other withdrawal symptoms. Breathe in for the same amount you breathe out for 5 minutes daily.
The 4-7-8 Method – This unique breathing technique was introduced by Andrew Weil, a doctor for alternative medicine. This method is useful for people who want to improve their sleep and manage anger. The 4-7-8 is an easy breathing technique where you have to count your breath. This unique mindful breathing technique can be practiced regularly before bedtime to draw the maximum benefits of its effects.
Abdominal Breathing – This is one of the easiest breathing techniques for beginners and is highly effective for those who practice it regularly. It is also known as belly breathing and helps to reduce stress and anxiety significantly. This mindful breathing technique only takes 5 minutes of your day to ensure better overall health in the long run. This is an easy process where you have to inhale deep into your belly in order to inflate the stomach. The abdominal breathing technique improves the supply of oxygen throughout the body and can be beneficial for patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Stimulating Breath – This technique is a series of 3 short inhales and exhales through the nose within a minute. It helps to increase alertness and stimulate energy. The method requires regular practice to feel excellent and the time duration for the technique can be increased or adjusted with regular practice.
Mantra and Compassionate Breathing – These are two separate but similar mindful breathing techniques where you can chant mantras, phrases, or words during the breath cycle. This is a great self-care technique that helps to manifest all the positivity that you wish for in life. Every mantra or phrase you chant along with conscious breathing becomes a regular practice to calm the mind, regulate the bodily processes, and improve your overall quality of life. Compassionate breathing helps you practice empathy and love for yourself and others. This can be a therapeutic and healing method of practicing self-love.
Nostril Breathing – There is a wide array of options to choose the perfect nostril breathing technique based on convenience. Some of the common nostril breathing techniques include single nostril breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and psychic breath. These different nostril breathing techniques have different health benefits and can be easily practiced for 5 minutes regularly. It helps to steady the mind and body, become more confident, and self-aware. This can help us spiritually connect to our inner selves and show gratitude and appreciation for all the blessings each breath gives us.
Pranayama – This is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is also taught as a yoga technique. You have to inhale with the mouth closed and exhale with the nose. This process helps to purify the blood and clear the respiratory system. This increases the oxygen flow to the heart and brain. There are several other pranayama breathing techniques but the cooling technique is a great way to create a cooling sensation through mindful breathing.
There are also breathing sensory tools that help regulate and control your breathing. The Shift by Komuso Designs and Stress Straws are organic pieces of jewelry that effortlessly slow and extend your exhale. These breathing pendants act as an anchor reminding you to take a deep breath and giving you something to focus on.
These straw breathing necklaces help to prolong and elongate your exhale making mindful breathing exercises easier. Stress Straws are made out of all-natural bamboo providing an environmentally friendly and biodegradable option.
Mindful breathing techniques are easy and free to practice. Many people experience fast and helpful results as soon as they start incorporating better and proper conscious breathing habits into their lives. There doesn’t have to be any expensive equipment and it can be done anywhere. It does not take much time to experience sustainable long-lasting benefits. Mindful breathing helps to enhance your overall wellbeing and helps reduce the risks of several diseases and conditions. There are several options when it comes to different breathing techniques for you to choose. In as little as five deep breaths, you can start experiencing the effective and practical life-changing health benefits. Start living better through mindful breathing today!
n.d. (2021). Citation: Mindful Breathing: Complete Guide (Updated 2021). healing crystals company. Retrieved from https://www.healingcrystalsco.com/blogs/blog/mindful-breathing-complete-guide
n.d. (n.d.). Citation: TOP 9 Best Breathing Techniques For Meditation and Mindfulness. mala prayer. Retrieved from https://www.malaprayer.com/blogs/news/9-best-breathing-techniques-for-meditation-and-mindfulness
Telloian, Courtney. (2021, October 4). Citation: All About Mindful Breathing. Psych Central. Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/health/mindful-breathing