Five breathing techniques to enhance your mental and physical health

Practised regularly, these techniques can improve respiratory efficiency, enhance digestion, and detoxify the body
Five breathing techniques to enhance your mental and physical health

Breathing is an automatic process we often take for granted, yet its power to enhance both mental and physical health is profound. By practising specific breathing techniques, we can improve our well-being in numerous ways.

1. Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing 

Deep diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing, involves inhaling deeply through the nose, allowing the abdomen to expand, and exhaling slowly through the mouth. This technique enhances oxygen exchange, reduces stress and lowers heart rate and blood pressure. Practising this for just a few minutes daily can significantly decrease anxiety and improve lung function.

2. Box Breathing

Box breathing, used by athletes and military personnel, helps to calm the mind and increase concentration. This method involves inhaling through the nose for four counts, holding the breath for four counts, exhaling through the mouth for four counts, and holding again for four counts. Repeating this cycle helps manage stress, improve focus and maintain a balanced nervous system.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

Alternate nostril breathing is a yogic practice that balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain, enhancing mental clarity and emotional stability. To perform this technique, close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then, close your left nostril with your ring finger, release your right nostril and exhale through it. Repeat the process, alternating nostrils. This technique promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety and improves overall mental function.

4. 4-7-8 Breathing

Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique is designed to induce relaxation and improve sleep quality. Inhale quietly through your nose for four counts, hold your breath for seven counts and exhale completely through your mouth for eight counts. Practicing this technique twice a day helps regulate the nervous system and alleviate stress-related issues.

5. Breath of Fire (Kapalabhati)

Kapalabhati, also called Breathe of Fire, is an advanced yogic breathing technique that involves short, rapid exhales and passive inhales. This method invigorates the body, clears the mind, and boosts energy levels. Practised regularly, it improves respiratory efficiency, enhances digestion and detoxifies the body.

(Written by Manik Kichugari)

Five breathing techniques to enhance your mental and physical health
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