Mindful breathing is a simple, practical and powerful exercise that helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels, and bring the body and mind back to a relaxed and calm state.
Breathing is also very closely connected with digestion. So, if you are overweight and would like to slim down then incorporating mindful breathing exercises to your day can help to shift a few kilograms, whilst also adding years to your life.
When we come in to this world as babies we instinctively know how to take deep breaths in and out, utilizing the diaphragm so that the air gets in to the middle and lower sections of the lungs, with more oxygen being absorbed and carried by the blood to produce energy. But as we age, most of us start to breathe differently – our ribcage expands, our abdomen deflates and our shoulders move up. As a result only the upper small sections of the lungs are involved, and we take more frequent breaths, particularly noticeable in overweight and obese people, resulting in our body being starved of oxygen.
The ideal target is to take fewer, longer, deeper breaths per minute. Daily breathing exercises can help to re-train the body. Following are some tips I’ve learnt over the years:
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Lay on your back or sit cross-legged and close your eyes.
- Breathe in through the nose for a count of 5 seconds, breathing deep in to the lower sections of your lungs.
- Pause for 2 seconds.
- Breathe out with pursed lips for a count of 10 seconds.
- Pause for 2 seconds.
- With every inhale, visualise breathing in relaxation and energising oxygen.
- With every exhale, visualise breathing out any stress that has been taken on throughout the day.
- With every pause, relax any tense muscles.
This breathing exercise is also a remarkably effective tool to help ease anxiety. A quick and simple exercise that I highly recommend doing each morning and to help bring about a happier and healthier you.
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