Breathing is the most essential and effective method of relieving stress and anxiety, in which one has to do nothing but to breathe. Conscious and mindful breathing deepens relaxation and elevates peace within.
There are many different types of breathing techniques that are extremely good for one’s mental and physical health being. All of the breathing exercises carry their specific and uncountable health benefits. Here are different types of breathing techniques, with their health benefits, to improve one’s physical and mental health.
1. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep breathing, is a technique used to strengthen the diaphragm, a major muscle of respiration. It involves breathing in through the nose, by counting to four and slowly exhaling out. This technique benefits your health in the following ways: (1)
- Stress reduction
- Slows breathing rate and utilizes energy
- toning of abdominal muscles
- maintains a healthy digestive system
- strengthens diaphragm
- Maintains blood PH levels
- Improves respiratory functions
- cleanses and rejuvenates vital channels of energy
2. Equal coherent breathing
Coherent breathing is a stress-busting and the simplest breathing technique. This technique generally involves sitting comfortably with your back straight and inhaling and exhaling to the count of 6. It calms the body through its effect on the autonomic nervous system. Its benefits include: (2)
- Inner calm and peaceful balance
- Relaxed body
- helpful for anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
- Immune system response and many other benefits.
3. Pursed-lip Breathing Technique
Pursed lip breathing is the technique that allows people to control their ventilation, oxygenation, and shortness of breath. This technique involves inhaling air from the nose and exhaling from mouth slowly with pursed lips. It has the following health benefits: (3)
- Relieves shortness of breath
- Improves ventilation
- Keeps your airways open longer
- Prolongs exhalation to control breathing rate
- Causes general body relaxation
- Relieves dyspnea
4. Lions breath
Lion’s breath, also known as Simha pranayama (Simha means lion and prana, means life force energy) is an energizing breathing technique for releasing tension in the neck, jaw, and face. All you have to do is to rest the top of your hand on your knees and inhale. Then exhale out like a lion and repeat. Its benefits include:
- Improved blood circulation in tongue, throat, and face.
- Releases stress and build positive energy
- Relaxes facial muscles
- Therapeutic for tonsils, throat and vocal cords problem
- Unleashes your inner lion!
5. Breath of fire (kapalabhati)
Breath of fire, also known as kapalabhati, is one of the most popular forms of kundalini yoga. It involves rhythmic and continuous inhale and exhale, with no pause in between (almost 2-3 cycles per second). It is practiced through the nostril with the mouth closed. Its health benefits are: (4)
- Detoxing (releases toxins from lungs, mucous linings and other cells)
- Cleanses the lungs, diaphragm and produces and calming effect
- Strengthens the nervous system
- Increases oxygen delivery to the brain
- Helps overcome addiction
- Strengthens the navel chakra
- Purifies the respiratory system
6. Bellows Breath (Bhastrika)
Bhastrika pranayama or bellows breath is one of the simplest breathing techniques. The name Bhastrika is a Sanskrit word which means, bellows. It involves breathing forcefully in and out to energize the body and clear the mind. It has the following health benefits: (5)
- Energize the entire body and mind
- Strengthens respiratory muscles
- Reduces phlegm in sinuses
- Boosts metabolism
- Detoxifies body
7. Humming Bee Breath (Bhramari pranayama)
Bhramari pranayama is one of the best breathing exercises to soothe anxiety, free the mind of agitation or frustration. Bhramari is a Sanskrit word meaning bee. This technique uses a rhythmic breathing pattern with a bee-like sound one makes during slow exhalation. The humming sound is soothing for the spinning mind and brings calmness and clarity. It has the following benefits: (6)
- Calms the body and relaxes the parasympathetic nervous system
- Can help mitigate migraine
- Gives relief from anxiety, anger
- Helps in curing sinus problems
- lowers the blood pressure
8. Alternate nostril breathing
Alternate nostril breathing is a simple pranayama technique which is also known as Nadi Shuddhi. Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning “subtle energy” and shuddhi means “purifying”. A human nose is very beautifully related to the autonomic nervous system. Inhaling through the right nostril activates the fight/flight response, also called the sympathetic nervous system. Inhaling through the left nostril activates relaxation or parasympathetic nervous system. These are the following health benefits of this pranayama technique: (7)
- Regulates body temperature
- Soothes nervous system
- Provides better sleep and calmness
- Enhance mental function
- Boost of energy
- Improve cardiovascular health
- Reduce stress and anxiety
9. Victoria breath (ujjayi breath)
It is a breathing technique involved in many of the yoga practices. Ujjayi breath in Sanskrit means victorious breath, hence the name. This breathing technique regulates the heating of the body. It has the following health benefits:
- Improved concentration and diminishes distractions
- Regulate the heat of the body
- Strengthening of the nervous and digestive system
- Improves the flow of vital life through mind and body
- increases the amount of oxygen in the blood
- Enhances memory
- builds energy
- Fosters relaxation in mind and body
10. Cooling breath (sitali)
In our daily life, our body gets tired and needs to cool down. Cooling breath or sitali pranayama is a way of relaxing and cooling the body. To do sitali breath you slowly inhale air through a rolled tongue. It benefits health in the following ways:
- Improves the quality of breath
- Calms anxiety and relaxes the body
- Helpful in summer to cool down
- Helpful for a sleep disorder
- Promotes digestion
11. Box breathing
Box breathing is a simple yet effective stress relief technique that follows a certain rhythm and is a paced technique. This technique is all about breathing in through the nose while counting to four, then holding it inside for 4 seconds and finally exhaling it. It has the following health benefits:
- It calms nerves and relieves stress
- Reduced heart rate
- Increased blood flow to heart and lung
- Improves sleep pattern
- Lowers blood pressure
- Mental clarity and focus
12. Buteyko breathing technique
Buteyko breathing technique is a form of alternative physical therapy that utilizes breathing exercises to treat asthma, hyperventilation, and other respiratory conditions. It offers a safe and natural cure. The core elements of this technique are – nasal breathing, relaxation, and reduced breathing exercise. It is claimed that this technique can treat symptoms of diabetes and some reproductive disorders. However, there is no medical evidence of its beneficial effects in patients of asthma and other chronic lung diseases. (8)
13. 4-7-8 ( relaxing breath)
The 4-7-8 is derived from the yogic practice of pranayama, meaning “regulation of breath”. It is a very simple technique that requires no specific position and can be performed while sitting or lying down. It has the following health benefits: (9)
- Decreases anxiety
- Natural tranquilizer for the nervous system
- Stress reduction
- Anger management
Breathing is a gift of life, and breathing correctly can change one’s life for the better. It can be something one can enjoy and focuses on to improve the quality of life.
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