Your breathing affects your health in many different ways, for example it helps regulate the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Breathing exercises are used in meditation and yoga to help relax the mind and body. But did you know that belly breathing can also have a positive impact on our health?
The Benefits of Belly Breathing
Belly breathing is a great way to calm your mind and body, reduce stress and release tension. In this blog, we’ll explore the health benefits of belly breathing along with the science behind why it’s so good for you. Then we’ll look at how to get started with three easy belly breathing exercises that you can practice anywhere.
Belly breathing is also known as diaphragmatic breathing because it helps you engage the diaphragm, a large muscle in your abdomen. Your diaphragm plays an important role in helping you breathe efficiently. When you breathe from your belly, you use more oxygen than when you breathe from your chest. This can help improve cardiovascular health and increase energy levels. And because belly breathing involves deep, slow breaths, it’s a great way to relieve stress and anxiety.
5 Surprising Belly Breathing Benefits
Mindful breathing can be a powerful tool to boost your physical and mental health. When you practice deep belly breathing instead of shallow chest breathing, you may feel more calm, relaxed and focused. You may also experience the following benefits.
Lower blood pressure: Deep, slow breaths help the parasympathetic nervous system kick in, which lowers your blood pressure.
Calm the nervous system: Breathing deeply helps reduce the stress response and decrease your heart rate. This is important because chronic stress can have many harmful effects on your body.
Increase energy levels: Deep breathing gets more oxygen into your bloodstream than short, shallow breaths do. This may increase your energy levels throughout the day.
Improve digestion: This type of deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing can help reduce feelings of stress, which is useful since stress can cause digestive discomfort.
Boost immunity: When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those who practice deep belly breathing regularly report fewer illnesses and recover faster from illness or injury.
Here are three easy belly breathing exercises that you can practice anywhere:
Lie on the floor with one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose for two seconds. Your stomach should rise more than it does when you breathe normally. Exhale slowly through pursed lips for four seconds. Your stomach should move in as you exhale. Do this for about five minutes at a time, or until you start to feel more relaxed.
Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Relax your shoulders and place one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly, just below your ribs. Take a deep breath in through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Hold your breath for a count of two. Then, slowly breathe out through pursed lips. Keep your stomach muscles tight so they move in as you exhale. Repeat these steps for a few minutes.
Lie on your back. Place a small book on your stomach just below your rib cage. Take a deep breath in through your nose so that the book rises. Count to two as you breathe in, then hold your breath for another count of two.