Breathing is our permanent companion—we wouldn’t survive without it for more than a couple of minutes. Learn why deep breathing is so important for your well-being.
Inhalation gives our body the vital fuel (oxygen) that it needs to function, and exhalation eliminates the toxins (particularly carbon dioxide) produced as we go about our daily tasks.
Deep breathing is very important
For thousands of years, spiritual seekers and yogis have understood not only the physical, but also the mental and spiritual benefits of breathing. Yet in modern-day society, many people don’t breathe “well.” Instead, they breath shallow—short, sharp breaths into the top of the chest rather than slow, deep ones into the belly.
Subtly look around you the next time you’re on a train or bus—the inhalations of most people will most likely be so shallow that you’ll hardly see their stomach or chest moving. They are only “half-breathing.”
This is a real shame because slow, deep breathing not only maximizes your intake of oxygen and your elimination of waste products, which boosts all your body’s functions, but it also helps to:
- increase energy levels and stamina
- relieve body tension
- enhance mental focus
- reduce stress and anxiety
- stimulates a sense of calm and equilibrium
- enhance overall mood
- enhance overall fitness.
It’s useful to assess the way you breathe from time to time —to see if you, too, take this vital function for granted.
This is how proper breathing looks and feels like
Follow the following steps to get a sense of how true deep breathing feels. Compare it to how you usually breathe to determine what changes you need to make, if any, to maximize the use of your breath.
After all, breathing is without doubt one of the few automatic functions that we can consciously control, so we should make the most of it.
It’s important to use full breathing both during everyday actions and during exercise, since physical activity further increases your body’s need for oxygen.
- Stand tall, sit or lie down, and place your hands on both sides of your ribs, just below your chest, with your fingers spread wide.
- Take a slow, deep breath through your nose and, as you do so, feel your belly gradually expand and your hands on your rib cage raise slightly. When you feel like you can’t take in any more air, slowly breathe out through your mouth, feeling both your rib cage lower and your belly deflate, until you feel like you’ve expelled all air. Do this several times.