Breathing has a lot more to do with physical fitness than you realize. You’ve certainly heard by now to take great inhales and exhales when lifting large amounts of weight. This is to ensure that your lungs get the maximum amount of oxygen to power you through those couple second lifts.
Taking deep breaths and stretching your entire body doesn’t just work in the weight room, but in your own home or workplace. Successful breathing techniques don’t mean that you’re taking big gulps of air. Stress management through controlled breathing improves your overall output across the board.
Furthermore, utilizing different muscles and parts of your body increases the range of motion in your lungs.Here are some examples of great breathing techniques. The key with these techniques is consistency and the limitation of stress.
For Clogged Nostrils
For those of us with chronic nasal allergies or sicknesses, many of these exercises can be tricky or even tiresome. We all know how annoying it is to breathe through only one nostril while other one is swollen shut.
While you should always adhere to what your doctor or physician has to say about your condition, there are a couple of things you can do to help clear your nostrils for the time being:
- Saline rinse
- Allows saline mixed water to rinse the nostrils clean
- Blowing your nose
- Much better than just wiping your nose
- Trimming nose hairs
- Allows air to travel through the nostrils unimpeded
Health Benefits of Routine Breathing
Stress, breath, exercise, mentality, and physicality are all interlinked in complex ways. The mind and body have more to do with each other than most of us would realize. That’s why its so important to make sure that your mind and body are on the same track.
Controlling your out of control breath can lead to notable changes in your behavior and stress level. If you are sensitive and quick to anger, these techniques can slow your heart rate and prevent reactions that no one really wants to see. The key with these techniques is consistency and the limitation of stress:
- Controlled breathing can help you hold more in your lungs and control how much you expend. If you are a swimmer or free diver, these techniques will be great for your training.
One’s blood pressure is the rate of which blood pumps in and around the heart. No doubt we’ve all heard the T.V.’s and radios telling us to be wary of high blood pressure and rightfully so. Chronic high blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease or even strokes.
Breathing techniques like the ones we’ll discuss below have been proven to regulate blood pressure. You should always have a professional check up on you, but controlled breathing slows your heart rate and leads to an overall lower blood pressure (within safe limits).
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is an illness that makes you feel like you’re unable to take a deep, satisfying breath. For some this is irritating but for others, it can be dangerous. The inability to take a deep breath may feel like you’re unable to breathe at all and can lead to panic or anxiety attacks. Because you feel short of breath, your body resorts to using abdominal and chest muscles to take in and expel air. This will leave much of your upper body feeling chronically sore.
So if COPD is leaving you short of breath, what can you do?
COPD won’t be completely eliminated without medication or proper treatment. While you shouldn’t actively avoid treating COPD, the following exercises can alleviate the pressure of COPD on your daily life:
Much of our core power comes from our abdominal region, and focusing our power there will regulate breath to an extent. Put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest while breathing through your nose. The goal is to prevent the chest from protruding so the diaphragm is inflated, thus stretching the lungs.
- 6-10 breaths a minute for ten minutes. This type of exercise will reduce your heart rate and is best for imminent situations like tests, exams, or interviews. Keep up this exercise for the next eight weeks and you’ll definitely be able to see the difference in your recurrent stress levels.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
As the name suggests, you’ll be covering one nostril at a time to regulate the flow of air through your nose.
- Take a finger big enough to completely close off your right nostril and then breath through your left nostril.
- Use one of your ring fingers to close off the left nostril and then exhale through the right.
- Switch up the process so you are inhaling through the right and exhaling through the left.
This is a common yoga breathing exercise because it forces you to use both sides of your brain. Call it symmetrical or in balance if you will. If you are a notorious mouth breather, then utilizing your nostrils will give you greater flexibility in the ways your lungs get air.
You may already do this technique involuntarily after exercising, but its good to practice it properly. The pursed lips technique is pretty much conducted like its name indicates.
- Breathe in through the nose.
- Exhale through pursed lips (slowly).
What does this method do? For one thing, it slows down your breathing and forces you to use both your nose and mouth. If you were using just the nose or the mouth, you may feel that your breathing is labored or your lungs aren’t inflating all the way.
This exercise is similar to abdominal but relies more on your own counting and pacing. The key outcome with this technique is regulation of breath if you feel your heart rate pick up or when your stress levels are high.
- Place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest.
- Take 4 seconds to breathe in.
- Hold for 7 seconds.
- Exhale slowly for 8 seconds.
You should repeat this exercise until you can completely empty your lungs of air by the eighth second.
This exercise is seen a lot in meditative seminars and yoga exercises. Most people claim that it raises their alertness and keeps their mind alert and aware of their surroundings. You see, breathing steadily doesn’t just lower your heart rate, but gets your brain out of its exhausted state and back on track.
Inhale and exhale quickly through your nose while keeping your mouth closed. Try to keep breaths as short but comfortable as possible but equal in duration.
- Repeat this process around 15 times in a session.
Users of this technique prefer it to chugging an energy drink or coffee.
Something you should make note of is that you’ll not feel results right away. With any exercise—patience and consistency are the primary themes. For those who are actively treating their illnesses with these techniques, it can be easy to scrap the idea when you don’t feel better right away.
However, stress is cause for a multitude of problems both physical and psychological. Tempering your stress will lead to an overall greater state of mind.