Paced breathing trumps normal breathing when it comes to managing certain health conditions, or even for just feeling more energetic.
Something as simple as lengthening each inhalation and exhalation can help you feel fitter and more at ease.
Benefits of Paced Breathing
1. Reduce hot flashes. Changing the way you breathe affects your body’s autonomic nervous system. Your autonomic nervous system helps maintain your body temperature, so changing over to paced breathing minimizes hot flashes.
2. Tame anxiety. Anyone who is prone to panic attacks knows what it’s like to be short of breath. If you’re being treated for anxiety and depression, ask your doctor about using paced breathing as a supplement to conventional care. It’s also great for ordinary daily challenges like traffic jams and lost luggage.
3. Boost your mood. Most people feel a little lazy or blue from time to time. Delivering more oxygen to your brain will make you more alert and cheerful.
4. Mange stress. Modern life is full of pressures and demands. Getting stress under control with paced breathing helps to prevent chronic inflammation as well as emotional distress.
5. Cope with pain. Childbirth is one of the most obvious occasions when patients use breathing techniques. You can apply it to any kind of pain. Experts debate exactly how it works, but it seems to provide a distraction and helps you to loosen up.
6. Sleep better. Get relief from tossing and turning until dawn. Fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently during the night.
7. Promote healing. Studies show that skillful breathing can help recovery times. If you have major surgery scheduled or you injure your knee jogging, you may be able to get back in shape faster than you think.
8. Strengthen your immune system. The quality of your breath plays a big role in keeping you fit and strong. You’ll find you catch fewer colds and you’ll increase your resistance to more serious conditions.
Paced Breathing Training Tips
1. Understand your hormones. Stress triggers higher levels of adrenaline, which is associated with short and shallow breathing. When you relax, your brain produces more choline, so your breathing becomes deeper and more leisurely.
2. Slow down. Gradually work your way down to 5 to 8 breaths a minute. The average rate is about 15 to 20. When you get down to about 5 breaths, stay there. Otherwise, you may get dizzy.
3. Inhale deeply. Breathe in through your nostrils. Slowly draw air up from your diaphragm. Experiment with going deeper each time.
4. Exhale fully. Pay equal attention to exhaling. Let all the air out gently. Match the length of each exhalation to the length of each inhalation.
5. Aim for two sessions a day. Some studies show that you get the best results when you practice twice a day. Brief sessions of 5 to 15 minutes are fine. You can even make progress in as little as two minutes.
6. Pick a focal point. If you have trouble concentrating on your breath, use an aid that works for you. Count your breaths or silently repeat an inspiring word or phrase to yourself. If you prefer visual images, look at a candle or a pretty flower.
7. Continue your education. There are many variations on breathing mindfully. Once you’ve mastered paced breathing, you may want to go on to learn other styles. Sign up for a yoga or meditation class or browse through your local library for books and CDs.
Paced breathing is a safe and natural method that anyone can learn. It helps eliminate anxiety and hot flashes.
It’s free and simple and you can take it everywhere you go. Start living better with every breath you take.
photo: Keoni Cabral, Creative Commons License