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Deep Breathing

Chronic stress and anxiety lead to tightening of the chest muscles and short, shallow breathing. This can become a habit that depletes the cells of the body of oxygen.

The simple practice of deep breathing has many health benefits for the body, mind and spirit. Some of these benefits include:

  • reducing stress
  • releasing endorphins to help relieve headaches, insomnia, back pain and other symptoms of stress
  • helping to clear and focus the mind
  • strengthening weak abdominal muscles
  • decreasing blood pressure
  • improving asthma symptoms
Breathing Exercises 
 
1.  Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.  Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of six.  Hold your breath for a count of six, then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of eight.  Repeat several times. 
 
2.  Again, begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.  Hold your left nostril closed while you breathe in long and slow through the right nostril only.  Release the left nostril and breathe out slowly through both sides of the nose.  Then, hold the right nostril closed while you breathe in long and slow through the left nostril.  Release the right nostril and breathe out slowly through both sides of the nose. Repeat this alternate nostril breathing several times to enhance mental clarity and focus, as well as increase relaxation.
 
Make it a Habit! 
 
Once you perfect the practice of deep breathing while you are at rest, begin using this technique frequently throughout the day.  You can practice anywhere, anytime and will soon begin to notice the benefits.  Practice some deep breathing now as you relax and enjoy the peaceful aquarium scene below!  Breathe in for the length of time it takes one fish to swim across the picture, then breathe out for the same length of time.
 
  

Copyright ©2010 Karen Wyatt, MD

This website is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your personal healthcare provider before using any treatment for a health problem.