What are the benefits of breathing exercises?

I wonder, do you ever take the time to simply sit and practice breathing?

This may sound a strange question, especially as we breathe everyday, all day for all of our lives, but I think it is worth a reminder (myself included), about just how valuable breathing exercises are.

Many breathing techniques can be practiced anytime, anywhere. One of the breathing exercises I like is box breathing, also know as square breathing, as it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to help manage stress and improve relaxation.

Watch the video to find out more, or Click Here if you would prefer to read about it.

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Benefits of Breathing Exercises – Video Transcript

Hello, I am Joan from Joan George Therapies and I think it is worth a reminder, myself included, about how valuable breathing exercises are. I am just as likely to slip off my perch of good intentions, particularly at this time of the year when we want to change our habits for the new year.

One of the breathing exercises I like, is box breathing, or square breathing, as it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system to help manage stress and improve relaxation.

This involves breathing through the nose, only. So when we get stressed and over-breathe, this kind of exercise balances our carbon dioxide and oxygen levels. It also assists in normalising blood pressure and promotes blood flow.  And, nose breathing produces nitric oxide, which offers antiviral  benefits, and that’s a good thing at any time of our lives, all good stuff.

Some of us who mouth breathe tend to hyperventilate or get more oxygen than is needed, which lowers the level of carbon dioxide in the body, and since you need a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide to function optimally, nose breathing is definitely the way to go.

Instead of me rabbiting on about it, let’s do 4 breaths so you see what it feels like.

Your hands are nicely relaxed in your lap, palms facing up, or down, whatever is comfortable for you. You might want to be sitting in an upright position, that is dignified, and relaxed at the same time. This will help when taking deep breaths.

I will tell you what you will be doing first, and then I will lead you through it.

In the first step you will be slowly exhaling through your mouth, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs

In the second step you will slowly and deeply inhale, while counting to 4 in your head

In step 3, hold your breath, for another slow count of four.

And in step 4, for a slow count of 4

So I will be leading and talking, you through the process, so won’t breathe with you

So, here we go

First time

Slowly exhale through your mouth, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs.

While counting to 4 in your head, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. Feel the air fill your lungs, until they are completely full and the air moves into your abdomen.

Hold your breath for another slow count of four.

For a slow count of 4, exhale through your mouth, breathing out all the air from your lungs and belly area, being very conscious of the feeling of the air leaving your lungs.

Hold your breath for the same slow count of four

Second time

Slowly in for 4, through your nose. Feel the air fill your lungs, until they are completely full and the air moves into your abdomen.

Hold your breath for a slow count of four.

Out through your mouth for a slow count of 4, breathing out all the air from your lungs and abdomen. Feeling the air leaving your lungs.

For the count of 4 holding your breath

Third time

Slowly in for 4, through your nose. Feel the air fill your lungs, until they are completely full and the air moves into your abdomen.

Hold your breath for a slow count of four.

Out through your mouth for a slow count of 4, breathing out all the air from your lungs and abdomen. Feeling the air leaving your lungs.

For the count of 4 holding your breath

Fourth time

Slowly in for 4, through your nose. Feel the air fill your lungs, until they are completely full and the air moves into your belly.

Hold your breath for a slow count of four.

Out through your mouth for a slow count of 4, breathing out all the air from your lungs and abdomen.

For the count of 4 holding your breath

And now coming back to normal breathing

Research shows that there are many benefits that can be gained from this way of breathing. It can calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system, regulating the involuntary body functions such as temperature. It can lower blood pressure and provide an almost immediate sense of calm.

The holding of the breath for the count of 4, allows carbon dioxide to build up in the blood, which enhances the response of the vagus nerve when you exhale, which in turn stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, producing a calm and relaxed feeling in mind and body.

In the beginning it might be challenging to get the hang of box breathing. You might get a bit dizzy after a few rounds, which is quite normal when you first start. If you do get dizzy, just stop and breathe normally.

Ideally, you’ll want to repeat the box breathing cycle four times in one sitting.  This kind of breathing can benefit anyone, by improving general wellbeing. I know using the term general wellbeing sounds very so-whatish, but I can’t emphasise this enough, it really is good.

If you want to go deeper into breathing exercises I have a simple course that I am offering.

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