A question I come across from time-to-time is, “Are breathing exercises good for you?” To tackle this important question, let me begin with another question. “Do you remember the last time you allowed yourself to relax?” Truly. It’s astonishing that from morning to night, so many of us feel like we must be busy! At least, that’s how it is for me unless I literally schedule a time to breathe. And when I say schedule time to breathe, I’m not referring to the life-sustaining breaths we take every few seconds. Rather, I’m referring to the kind of breathing that rejuvenates and empowers. In the yoga community, this kind of breathing is sometimes called mindful breathing or mantra breathing. I’ll discuss the difference between the two in a bit.
Stop wasting your energy
Life can get a little overwhelming when there’s always something to do, somewhere to be, and some problem to fix. The reality is, these problems will never go away. So, stop wasting away your energy and your life always putting out fires. It’s important to stop and renew your soul with some powerful, focused breathing exercises. Doing so will not only renew your physical energy, but it will give you a boost of confidence and clarity-of-mind, which will allow you to accomplish wonders.
Whether you call is meditation, mindful breathing, or breathing exercises, the basic formula is the same. Stop what you’re doing, find a quiet place, and breathe deeply for a set period of time. My favorite place for breathing exercises is in a quiet, sunny place.
Some of the benefits of healthy breathing exercises include
- Lowered heart rate
- Lowered blood pressure
- Reduction of Stress
- Increased clarity of mind
Mindful breathing vs. Mantra Breathing
Contrary to what many think, mindful breathing isn’t really a technique intended to slow one’s breathing down. Rather, the purpose of mindful breathing is to focus a person’s attention on their regular breathing patterns. When a person is more aware of their breathing and focuses intently on it, their breathing tempo tends to slow down and become deeper. And as your breathing becomes a little slower and deeper, your body becomes calmer. In effect, mindful breathing can naturally turn into a form of meditation.
Similar to mindful breathing, mantra breathing is also a technique that is focused on breath control. The main difference is that it adds the element of a mantra (a repeated phrase) to help keep the person focused.
I’ve tried both. I prefer to practice mindful breathing for the simple fact that it can be done in public spaces (at work, rehearsal, or on a bus, for example) without people looking at me weirdly.
The science and art of employing focused breathing techniques to improve one’s physiological experience isn’t new. It has been practiced since ancient days. Ironically, this proven practice which has been around for millennia is still woefully underappreciated. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of healing breathing techniques, check out the 4 Pranayama Techniques Worth Practicing.
In conclusion, if there’s one thing I hope readers will get from this blog it’s that the most important principle of mindful breathing is to THINK MORE about your breathing. Don’t get hung up on the “techniques.” If you wait until you stumble across the perfect technique or the perfect setting, then you’ll be waiting for a very long time. Your experience with mindful breathing can begin right now! Now that you’re done reading this blog post, I challenge you to think about the next ten breaths you’re going to take. Ready. Set. Wellness!