Learning deep breathing techniques is one of the most effective strategies for coping with the symptoms of stress and anxiety. By breathing slower and more deeply from your stomach, you signal your parasympathetic nervous system to produce a state of calmness. Diaphragmatic breathing enables more air to flow into your body, calming your nerves, improving your attention span and lowering pain levels.
WHAT IS DEEP BREATHING?
The use and benefits of deep breathing can be traced back to ancient traditions including yoga, tai chi, qi gong and meditation disciplines. In yoga, for instance, breath is a key element of the practice. Pranayama, or breath regulation, refers to the extension of the vital energy through the breath and can be understood as an umbrella term for different breathing techniques, including deep breathing. More recently, science has delved into this topic, accumulating a considerable body of research supporting the effectiveness of these techniques.
Also known as yogic breathing, deep breathing is the voluntary regulation of breath by consciously and actively using the diaphragm to increase the depth and slow down the inflow and outflow of air. The diaphragm is the muscle separating the abdomen and chest cavity. Attached to the base of the lungs, the diaphragm is rarely activated when breathing unconsciously. This translates into a shallow breathing pattern leading to poor ventilation. On the other hand, when breathing deeply, you engage this muscle by allowing your belly to rise and drop freely, facilitating a greater. This allows an array of positive physiological and psychological processes to take place.
BENEFITS OF DEEP BREATHING
Scientific reviews have shown that deep breathing techniques can improve symptoms in sick patients, and they are also beneficial in enhancing wellbeing in healthy people. Different emotions have been associated with varying patterns of breathing, heart activity and activation of either the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. Evidence suggests that it can also inhibit sympathetic (anxiety) activity and increases a parasympathetic (happiness) response which translates to experiencing less distressing and more positive emotions.
Abdominal breathing for 20-30 minutes each day will produce a state of relaxation, reduce stress and anxiety and will help you to feel more connected to your body bringing your awareness away from the worries in your head and helping to quiet the mind.