Thursday, 9 February 2012

Breathing Exercises & Tools |

Breathing Exercises & Tools Photo Credit young woman with pillows image by Daria Miroshnikova from

Although breathing is a natural function, it can be manipulated to your body’s advantage. Breathing exercises can influence the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates the heart rate, digestion, circulation and blood pressure. In fact, a yoga practice called pranayama utilizes breathing techniques to alter your health in a positive manner. In addition, breathing exercises can help to restore relaxation and reduce stress.


According to the Center on Aging Studies, several small pillows can be a great asset to breathing exercises. Tuck one under your knees and one under your neck to reduce pressure and strain. This position will encourage the natural process of breathing, elevating your stomach slightly with each inhalation and lowering it slightly during exhalation.


Because many breathing exercises require an erect posture, sitting in a straight-backed chair can be beneficial. Be sure the chair is comfortable enough to remain in for extended lengths of time—some breathing exercises can last up to 10 minutes.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

The book “Integrative Medicine” recommends doing diaphragmatic breathing at least twice per day—especially when in pain or when you find yourself plagued with upsetting thoughts. Start with one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. Inhale deeply, feeling the hand on your stomach rise slightly higher than the hand on your chest. This means the diaphragm is pushing air into the bottom of the lungs.

Exhale via the mouth, and then inhale slowly through your nose. Pretend you are inhaling all of the air from the room. Hold for as much as seven seconds. Exhale slowly, counting to eight as you do so. Contract the muscles of your abdomen as you exhale, urging all of the air from your lungs. Deep breathing is achieved not by inhaling more oxygen—but by exhaling it completely. Repeat this exercise four times.

Relaxed Breath

Begin this exercise in a comfortable position, with your back straight. Dr. Andrew Weil of suggests placing your tongue against the roof of your mouth, resting it directly behind your front teeth. Exhale all oxygen via your mouth, allowing yourself to make a loud “whooshing” sound.

Inhale via your nose, counting silently to four as you do so. Next, hold this breath for about seven seconds. Exhale completely once again via the mouth, let the air out in a whoosh. Repeat the entire cycle about three more times. Be sure that your exhalation is about two times as long as your inhalation.


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