Focusing on your own breathing can have a significant impact on your well-being and stress levels, awakening your mind and body whole also lowering blood pressure and reducing anxiety.
Here are six health benefits of breathing exercises:
1. STIMULATE BRAIN GROWTH
When controlled breathing is used during meditation, it can actually increase the size of the brain. Specifically, the brain experiences growth in areas associated with attention and processing of sensory input.
2. IMPROVE HEART RATE VARIABILITY
When we breathe slowly and deeply, our heart rate patterns (Heart Rate Variability or HRV) can synchronise with our breathing to bring on a feeling of calmness.
3. LOWER STRESS LEVELS
This is the most direct application of controlled breathing and the one we hear about most. Our brains are routinely on high alert for threats in our environment—we’re wired to react defensively to anything that hints of imperiling us physically or psychologically.
Controlled breathing may be the most potent tool we have to prevent our brains from keeping us in a state of stress, and preventing subsequent damage caused by high stress levels.
4. ALLEVIATE ANXIETY & NEGATIVE EMOTIONS
Focusing on breathing can help to alleviate anxiety, symptoms of depression and other negative emotions.
5. LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE
Research suggests that when practiced consistently, controlled breathing will result in lower blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn results in less wear and tear on blood vessels.
6. ALTER GENE EXPRESSION
Controlled breathing can alter the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism, and insulin secretion.
Long-term practice of relaxation breathing results in changes to the expression of genes associated with how the body reacts to stress.
The key to good breathing is awareness. Conscious breathing as an active practice is hugely beneficial, and it can help us find solid ground, restore energy, and create healthy rituals that will serve us for years to come.