Saturday, 11 February 2012

What Are The Benefits Of Breathing Exercises? |

What Are the Benefits of Breathing Exercises? Photo Credit relax image by Du...�an Zidar from

Though breathing is an involuntary bodily function, practicing various breathing methods can significantly improve your health and well-being. Yoga Journal reports that the stresses of daily life constantly engage the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in an increased heart rate and rapid breathing. Deliberate deep-breathing exercises can counter those effects, bringing the nervous system back into balance, slowing the heart rate and promoting a state of deep relaxation. Breathing exercises can also target certain health conditions such as altitude sickness or asthma.

Promoting Relaxation and Reducing Stress

Deep-breathing exercises can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calmness and well-being. According to a 2005 study by the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, yogic breathing exercises enhance mood, attention, mental focus and the ability to handle stress. Researchers recommend a 30-minute daily breathing practice as supplement to treatment programs for stress, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and stress-related medical illness. reports that the state of relaxation triggered by deep breathing helps bring the nervous system back into balance by reducing stress hormones, slowing the heart rate and relaxing the muscles. The body's natural relaxation response also increases energy, boosts the immune system, and heightens motivation, productivity and problem-solving skills.

Combating Altitude Sickness

Certain breathing exercises can help prevent or lessen the severity of altitude sickness, reports Yoga Journal. Altitude sickness occurs when available oxygen decreases, resulting in headaches, nausea, fatigue and dizziness. Breathing exercises combined with proper hydration can promote the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Before engaging in high-altitude activities, practice rapid breathing exercises that quickly increase oxygen levels, such as kapalabhati breathing, or skull brightener breath. Kapalabhati breathing consists of short, sharp exhales alternated with passive inhales. Work your way up to 75 to 100 exhalations. Also, try a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing, in which you use your thumb and forefinger to close one nostril and then the other.

Relieving Asthma

According to Yoga Journal, 17 million Americans suffer from asthma, a condition marked by coughing, wheezing and inflamed air passages. For asthmatics, breathing is often difficult, rapid and shallow. Yoga Journal defines asthma as a disturbed breathing pattern, which you can correct with breathing exercises that restore the body's natural breathing rhythm. Consult your doctor before engaging in intense breathing exercises if you are pregnant, have diabetes, kidney disease or chronic low blood pressure, or if you have recently had abdominal surgery. If you have asthma, avoid rapid breathing exercises such as kapalabhati, or those that tighten the throat. Focus on breathing through your nose, which may initially be difficult. Once or twice daily, engage in slow and easy rhythmic breathing, using longer exhalations and pauses before inhalations.


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