Importance of Mindful Breathing

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Mindfulness. It plays a role in all aspects of our life.

Simply put, mindfulness is being fully present in the current moment. You are aware of your surroundings, feelings, and thoughts. Mindfulness can have a great impact on your physical and mental health. Research shows it can bolster your immune system (which helps you fight off disease), improves concentration, reduces stress and anxiety, regulates your emotions, decreases depression, and improves mental focus and attention.

One of the most powerful ways to harness mindfulness is through breathing. Believe it or not, there is a correct way to breathe. You should be using your diaphragm or stomach to breathe correctly, not your chest. A good way to test your current breathing style is to place your hand on your stomach. Does your hand rise and fall with your stomach as you breathe?  

Using your diaphragm to breathe pulls blood into your chest, which improves the flow of blood back to your heart. Shallow breathing through your chest can have the opposite impact and increase tension and fatigue. It’s important to your overall health to learn how to breathe properly.

Practicing the mindful breathing technique 4-7-8 can not only teach you how to breathe properly but also help you deal with stress and anxiety in a positive way.

Mindful breathing works by activating the relaxation centers in your brain. I encourage you to practice the following exercise at least once a day.

4-7-8 Mindful Breathing

-Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down. (Eventually, you will be able to practice this technique any time or anywhere. If you are just beginning, I recommend finding a nice quiet place to lay on the floor and relax.)

-Place your feet shoulder width apart and place one hand on your stomach by your belly button and the other hand on your chest.

-Exhale the air in your lungs out through your mouth. Then inhale slowly through your nose while counting to four. Push slightly on your abdomen and concentrate only on your breath as you breathe in through your nose. Imagine warm air flowing all over your body.

-Hold the breath while counting up to seven and then slowly exhale through your mouth while counting to eight. When your exhaling, gently contract your abdominal muscles to make sure you are completely releasing the remaining air in your lunch.

-Repeat this series of 4-7-8 for five cycles or until you feel deeply relaxed. You may only be able to do one or two cycles in the beginning.  As you feel more comfortable with your ability to breath with your abdomen, it’s not necessary to use your hands on your abdomen and chest.

You can do this breathing exercise as much as you would like throughout the day. It’s a great exercise to practice in the morning, or at night before you go to bed. It may even help you fall asleep more easily. This exercise is also helpful during stressful or anxious moments as well. Focusing on your breath can activate your relaxation centers and help you through a stressful situation or help you recover more quickly from a stressful situation.


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