Thursday, 9 February 2012

Slow Breathing Exercises |

Slow Breathing Exercises Photo Credit checking the breath with the stethoscope image by Elnur from

Slow breathing, a form of exercise for the lungs, provides many benefits. Slow breathing, typically defined as six complete breath cycles---or an inhalation and exhalation---per minute, reduces the work load of the heart, improves digestion, boosts pain tolerance and increases oxygen supply to the entire body. Additionally, a slower inhale develops lung capacity while an elongated exhale fosters calmness and relaxation in thoughts, actions and anxiety. Practicing slow breathing exercises three times per week produces noticeable results, such as elevated mood and increased energy as well as disease prevention.


An average adult takes 11 to 15 breaths per minute. Breath provides oxygen to the brain and the organs of the body. Considered both voluntary, or controlled, and involuntary, or spontaneous, an average an adult takes 20,000 breaths per day.


Before beginning slow breathing exercises, determine the depth of your breath. Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position and observe your breath without controlling it. Place one hand on your abdomen and the other over the center of the sternum, or just left of your heart, and breathe normally. Shallow breathing causes only the chest to rise whereas a deeper breath inflates the abdomen. Breathing deeply, like slow breathing, is voluntary.

Sample Exercises

Slowing the breath requires deliberately reducing the number of inhales and exhales taken over a period of time. Counting during inhale and exhale offers one tactic to lengthen the breath. Choose a comfortable position, whether seated or lying flat on your back, and begin by focusing on each component of your breath. During an inhale count to five and pause, holding the breath for five counts. Use the abdomen to push air out of the lungs and count to 10 during the exhale. Over time an inhale slows to match the pace of an exhale. Alternatively, sit with legs crossed and inhale fully through the nostrils. Hold the breath for one count and then continue to inhale through the nose for two more counts. Pause before slowly exhaling through the nostrils. Repeat for five to 10 breaths.


Always begin in a comfortable and supported position when preparing to start slow breathing exercises. Because headaches and feeling light-headed are common symptoms caused by deep breathing, initiating slow breathing exercises while supine, or in a reclined position, helps to avoid injury caused by falling.


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