Focusing on your breathing is very good for you! This post will help you know and understand the importance of focusing on your breathing.
Have you ever just sat upright and tried focusing on your breathing? Doesn’t each breath feel like you’ve got life in your body?
I believe that an effective focused breathing routine automatically speaks about a focused mind. If you disagree with that thought, you have to agree that when our breath is still, so is our mind. The art of conscious breathing is practised for years in Yoga known as pranayama.
Our normal breathing speaks a lot about how we feel. If we are agitated, our breath quickens and our heart races. When we feel low, our breathing is slow and shallow.
Those who’ve been taking therapy to work on their mental health will agree to the fact that at least one of the exercises you do as part of your CBT work is to focus on your breathing. Sometimes when your mind feels like it is all over the place or you feel ‘lost’, a simple deep breath can help you reconnect or refocus. Normally, ‘take a deep breath’ is common advice.
Having a good breathing technique to go to can work like magic. Becoming aware of your breath and controlling how you breathe can make genuinely surprising changes to how you feel.
BENEFITS OF BREATHING
Good breathing is parallel to getting life into your being. Breathing exercises create a framework to effectively use the air outsides to make us feel better inside. A proper breathing routine can help you connect your physical state to your mental and spiritual state.
Breathing helps your inner energy to flow and it also facilitates the working of your brain to harness its ultimate potential.
Good breathing together with something as simple as drinking clean water can help in removing toxins from our bodies.
If you’re suffering from emotional tension or distress then simply spend 5mins focusing on your breathing and see how you instantly feel lighter. Breathing helps in clearing out negative thoughts or confused emotions and makes you feel free.
Deep breathing also helps in letting more oxygen enter your system with each breath. This somewhere even improves your blood quality. It is simple knowledge which we already know that by taking deep breaths we are letting more oxygen enter our body and exhaling even more bad carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Breathing reduces stiffness and releases tension. Just breathe slowly, purposefully and feel the calmness.
Breathing helps uplift your mood. Thoughtful breathing can help release feel-good happy hormones.
TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR BREATHING
Try breathing amongst nature, outdoors. Either while going out on a walk or by the river or lake or even in the mountains, choose to take deep breaths when outside where fresh air is available.
Whenever and where ever you decide to take deep breaths, just make sure you are sitting in a comfortable position. This will ensure that the comfort will let you sit in that position for longer without discomfort coming in the way of your breathing.
Preferably try and choose a time in the day when it is quiet and pleasant. The best suggested times to practice breathing are in the quiet of the early morning or after sunset.
Make sure your shoulders are relaxed, your spine is upright and preferably your hands are resting on your thighs or crossed at your chest. Try and keep your eyes closed to avoid any unnecessary distractions. While you are practising your breathing exercises, make sure your face, eyes, and neck are free and relaxed.
If you aren’t able to go outdoors for whatever reason then try and create a happy space for yourself or maybe even a special meditation room if possible. This place can help you find your own zen.
When you are conscious of your breathing, just be aware and observe what you are doing. Let all your attention and focus be on your breathing. Let fresh air enter your lungs and let it go deep in. Then breathe out. Imagine every alveolus of your lung is filled with this fresh and pure air. Exhale all the impure air. While you’re doing this also be aware of how your chest moves up and down and so does your belly with every breath.
Whenever possible try and focus on your breathing at least twice a day. The more you do it, the more it will help you in calming, destressing and centring your focus on all that is important to you. Make sure you form it as a normal daily habit.
DIFFERENT BREATHING TECHNIQUES TO TRY IF YOU ARE A BEGINNER
FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
This is a simple exercise to centre yourself and connect with your environment being more present in the now. This particular exercise is given to me by my therapist to curb my anxiety. It is simple and easy to follow. Practice it throughout the day, especially any time you find yourself getting caught up in your thoughts and feelings.
- Take ten slow, deep breaths. Focus on breathing out as slowly as possible until the lungs are completely empty—and then allow them to refill by themselves.
- Notice the sensations of your lungs emptying. Notice them refilling. Notice your rib cage rising and falling. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your shoulders.
- See if you can let your thoughts come and go as if they’re just passing cars, driving past outside your house.
- Expand your awareness: simultaneously notice your breathing and your body. Then look around the room and notice what you can see, hear, smell, touch, and feel.
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable position. You can lay down if you prefer.
- Close your eyes in a very relaxed position and lower your gaze.
- Roll back your shoulders.
- Try and focus on calmness. If your mind wanders bring your attention back to the stillness. Don’t force your breath, just breathe naturally.
- Place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Breath into your nose and breath out through your mouth. You may have noticed that as you inhale, your chest takes in pure oxygen and fills your abdomen.
As you inhale in, you can put good intentions into your being. Only positive thoughts and calm, uplifting energy. As you exhale think that you are releasing all the tension. You are releasing every ounce of toxic, negative energy. This breathing technique has to be repeated at least 10-15 times. Do it at your own pace and at your own time.
BREATHING FROM THE ALTERNATE NOSTRIL
I remember our Physical Ed. teacher back in school used to make us do this form of breathing exercise for our class. This exercise leaves you feeling clear in the head and some sort of tranquillity.
- Sit in a relaxed upright position and close your eyes. Make sure you are relaxed.
- Place the middle and index finger of your right hand between the eyebrows and place the right thumb on the right side of your nose just above the nasal bone in the little dent above the nostril. Your ring finger must be used to close the left nostril in the same area.
- Start by inhaling through both nostrils, then close the left nostril and exhale and inhale through the right.
- Now close the right nostril, open the left and exhale and then inhale through the left. Again remember to keep the breathing smooth and relaxed.
Do this for about 4-5 minutes. Then slowly return to your normal breathing.
BREATHING TO CALM YOU DOWN
All these breathing exercises start with the same prep.
- Once you are ready, breathe in for 4 counts, hold the breath for 4 counts and exhale slowly for 4 counts.
- You can do this for up to 6-8 counts each. Make sure you are relaxed and not straining yourself, otherwise you are at the risk of feeling dizzy.
Try doing this exercise 10 times or for 4-5 minutes. Return to your normal breathing.
BREATHING TO DESTRESS
- Lie flat on your back and relax. If your lower back hurts lie with the knees bent and feet on the floor. Place your hands on your abdomen.
- Inhale and exhale through your nose, slowly and gently.
- Let your hands pick up the gentle movement of your breath as it moves through your body.
- As you exhale let go as if you are sighing and you should hear the sound.
- After some time deepen your breath and move your hands to the ribs to feel the movement there.
- Next, take a deep breath and fill your lungs completely, hold for a few seconds.
- Keep your lips together, and slowly blow out the air from your mouth on a long deep exhalation.
- Stop for 10 seconds and then repeat the whole cycle again.
Do this up to 10 times.
BREATHING FOR ENERGY AND FOCUS
- Breathe in through your nose and count to 4.
- Exhale powerfully through the nose for less than a second.
- Again breathe in through your nose for a count of 4.
- Continue doing this for a total of 10 breaths.
By doing this you will feel a rush of energy pumping into your lungs. This breathing exercise will increase the oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
- This exercise can also be done by breathing very rapidly through your nostrils at a rate of about one exhalation per second with no pause in between.
- Try and start by doing this 20 times and then gradually increase it to 40 times.
- You can even build this up to 60 times, but stop if you are feeling lightheaded.
- Alternate each cycle with a few pauses to breathe normally for a few minutes.
COUNTING AND BREATHING
This breathing exercise can help you calm yourself, quieten your mind and relax your body. It is the perfect breathing technique to aid in the well-being of your mind, body and soul. This technique helps to refocus your attention and stops your mind from going places.
- Sit comfortably.
- Close your eyes and relax your face.
- Breathe normally a few times, following each breath and becoming aware of its movement in the body.
- Start counting 1-10 numbers every time you inhale and do the same while exhaling.
- If your mind wanders start back at one again.
- You can also try and count backwards from 50 to zero synchronising the breath with each count, exhale on the even numbers and inhale on the odd numbers.
A short little story time before I end this post. While I was studying BMM(Journalism) in Mumbai we used to have a number of presentations. I remember having a major panic attack in front of my teammates, the professor and the entire class. It took me a few minutes to calm down. The professor was quite understanding. Today, when I look back on that incident, the only thing I would have done differently was to have a proper few minutes to focus on my breathing before my presentation. But anyway I am a much more confident person now and I can take on the world by including these few breathing techniques as part of my daily routine.
Hope these techniques help you have a breathwork routine that works for you. It is good to know the importance of focusing on your breathing and using it to your advantage. You can also use these breathing techniques with other forms of self-care like journaling and meditation.
Do you have any other specific breathing routine? Leave a comment below and let us know. It is always good to share some ideas.
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