Breathing is something most of us do without a second thought. However, since ancient times, controlled and practiced types of breathing have been used to treat many different ailments, including physical, mental and emotional disorders. Read on for some simple, easy methods of breathing for healing.
How Controlled Breathing Works
Breathing for healing is not simple, everyday breathing. It is a very controlled type of breath intake and exhalation with specific goals.
Breathing was considered central to good health by many ancient civilizations. Current followers of these old ways – as well as new practitioners – believe that breathing has the power to put the body back into proper balance. Unbalanced life force – which goes by many different names depending on culture – is believed to be the source of virtually all disease. It is believed that controlled breathing can help to remedy these imbalances, and therefore ease or even cure many different ailments.
Breathing for Overall Healing and Peace
Creating an overall sense of well-being is perhaps the most common goal when practicing controlled breathing. When we are tense, we tend to take shallow, short breaths. This type of breathing triggers the release of stress hormones, which, in turn, continue the cycle of stress.
Breaking this cycle through slow, controlled breathing can, almost immediately, bring relief from nervous tension. Since chronic stress has been linked to an extremely broad variety of illnesses, breaking this cycle on a regular basis can have extraordinary health benefits.
Belly breathing – also sometimes called baby breathing – is perhaps the most common type of controlled breathing. It’s also extremely simple. It’s best practiced lying down, especially when just starting out. This allows you to be sure you’re performing the exercise correctly.
Belly breathing involves expanding the stomach as well as the lungs. To begin, lie down and place a hand over your stomach. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling up your abdomen and chest. Be sure to fully expand each. You may hold the breath for a few moments, but not to the point of discomfort. Slowly exhale through the mouth. You can repeat this simple exercise as many times as needed to relieve nervous tension.
Over time, even this simple exercise can result in improved health. It short-circuits the production of stress hormones, which in turn leads to decreased inflammation throughout the body. Decreased body-wide inflammation has been scientifically linked to reduced risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious health issues.
Breathing for Energy
While most breathing exercises are centered on peace and relaxation, controlled breathing can also be used to produce energy.
Breathing very shallowly and rapidly, typically for a count of ten to fifteen breaths, can jump-start the body into producing energy. As with relaxation exercises, breaths should be taken in through the nose and out through the mouth.
Since most people benefit more from relaxation, it’s recommended that energy-producing breathing exercises are used sparingly. For many people, a quick shallow-breathing session in the morning is all they need to get energized. This is an excellent alternative for those sensitive to caffeine, or who have trouble feeling fully awake early in the day.
While the most common breathing exercises are very basic, they are all slightly different. What works wonderfully for one person may not for the next, so it’s a good idea to explore different exercises. There are many online resources available for this, as well as books devoted to the subject.