We understand breathing as inhaling and exhaling air, taking oxygen into our lungs and expelling carbon dioxide; but often we do not pay attention to the fact that each inspiration oxygenates every cell of our body, while exhalations help lymphatic drainage and detoxify the body. But, in addition, breathing is directly connected to our emotions and our health.
Why is breathing important?
Since the beginning of our life we breathe, being this an involuntary act that we perform automatically, and whose main function is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. During inspiration, the oxygen contained in the air reaches the red blood cells, while during expiration, carbon dioxide is expelled, which is produced in the cells. But beyond this function, breathing is closely linked to our emotions and health.
Each emotion prepares our organism to act in a certain way, in which a supply of oxygen will be needed, thus affecting our breathing. For example, when feeling fear or anger, breathing will be faster - forcing the heart to beat faster to carry the necessary oxygen to the cells -, while when feeling sadness, breathing is slower and deeper - expanding the lungs, optimizing resources and making the heart beat slower. Breathing is an indicator of emotional state and health, and, despite being an involuntary process, it can be controlled by helping in our self-care and awareness. That is why breathing and its process is the basis of all meditation and relaxation techniques.
Breathing techniques to relax
There are different ways of breathing that are very beneficial for our health and well-being.
The slow and deep breaths can be practiced from any place and at any time you want.
This type of breathing promotes relaxation and meditation, but at the same time, breathing slowly, deeply and rhythmically lowers the pulse, relaxes the muscles and acts on the parasympathetic nervous system. In addition, they help to get more oxygen to the brain, which reduces anxiety. In turn, good breathing habits detoxify the body, as it contributes to the proper functioning of the lymphatic system, releasing toxins - the nervous system improves as the amount of blood increases and the glands rejuvenate. On the other hand, slow breathing improves circulation, since it reduces the workload of the heart, lowers blood pressure and increases the presence of oxygen in the blood, dilating the blood vessels and achieving better blood pressure. As for the lungs, this type of breathing increases the thoracic capacity thanks to its regular practice. And finally, it helps to a better assimilation of food since the digestive organs receive more oxygen and work more efficiently.
Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing
The abdominal breathing is the one that is developed thanks to the diaphragm - which is a muscle that is located below the ribs and above the stomach. In this type of breathing, instead of feeling your chest swell and deflate, your stomach does: when your lungs fill with air, the diaphragm presses down, causing the stomach to rise; while when the lungs empty, the diaphragm goes back up and the stomach goes down. Thus, the result is a uniform, slow and deep breathing.
According to some experts, practicing this type of breathing reduces anxiety and reduces stress, helps with heart rate, reduces muscle tension and helps reduce pain.
Alternate breathing is considered one of the best anti-stress techniques. This technique, which consists of breathing alternately through one nostril and then the other, is actually a yoga technique whose purpose is to purify the body and relax the mind - making it also a good breathing to improve your yoga practices.
This is also a breathing that is performed from the diaphragm, and for which you will have to plug one of your orifices with your thumb and exhale through the free orifice, inhale again through the free orifice and plug it to exhale through the other. Repeat the operation at least 14 to 21 times.
As you practice this exercise and your lung capacity and concentration increase, you will be able to breathe more deeply.
Therefore, it only remains to practice the different types of breathing and observe which one works best to feel more relaxed.