Health is the new fad. In order to maintain and improve our health, we try various measures including changing our diet, lifestyle and doing exercise regularly. However, breathing, an important process of life, is often overlooked. The benefits of breathing exercises have a profound impact on one’s physical and mental health.
There are several breathing exercises, which you can practice for a few minutes each day; some of these are listed as follows.
- Sama Vritti
This is an exercise for beginners who have not done any kind of breathing techniques in the past. In this exercise, the inhalation and exhalation take place through the nose, for an equal amount of time, say four counts. Therefore, you would inhale for four counts and then exhale for four counts. This is one of the easiest exercises and can be practised in any place and at any time.
- Alternate Nostril Breathing
This breathing exercise is called ‘Nadi Shodhana’, which means ‘channel cleaning’. This is done by inhaling and exhaling through each nostril alternatively as follows:
- Sit with your legs crossed and place your right thumb on your right nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your ring finger while releasing the thumb from the right nostril. Exhale from the right nostril.
- Inhale from the right nostril. Again, place your thumb on the right nostril and release your ring finger from the left nostril. Exhale from the left nostril.
- This completes one cycle. Each cycle can be repeated for up to five minutes.
- 4-7-8 breathing technique
In this breathing technique, the tongue is positioned on the roof of your mouth throughout the breathing exercise. This exercise takes place in three stages:
- You breathe in silently through your nose for four counts
- You hold your breath for seven counts
- Then breathe out audibly, making a ‘whoosh’ sound through your pursed lips for eight counts.
Keep in mind that the exhalation takes twice as long as the inhalation.
Tips for better breathing
- Breathe through your nose on a regular basis.
- Often the length of your breath depends on your mood; when you are anxious, you breathe rapidly and when you are relaxed, you take longer breaths calmly. Being aware of your breath also helps you change your mood.
- Keep a good posture and stretch your muscles. This is done in order to increase the surface area of your muscles and maximize your inhalations.
- Ensure that exhalations are long and complete so that the next inhalation can be complete.
Though breathing is an involuntary process, the aforementioned exercises are ways in which we can direct the flow of air in and out of your body. This helps in relaxing, improves oxygen delivery in your body, lowers blood pressure, cleanses your body, and leads you to live a healthy lifestyle. This is pertinent, as we live in a time where an unhealthy lifestyle leads to serious illnesses such as heart attacks, cancer, and kidney failures, among others.
Apart from effective breathing, currently, it is of utmost importance for you to opt for online health insurance policies as well as critical illness covers to safeguard yourself from undesired events and unexpected costs. Many websites even provide an online health insurance premium calculator, allowing you to make an informed decision about your insurance plans.