The Benefits of Deep Breathing
It's estimated that the average man uses a mere 50 to 60 percent of his lung capacity. But you can train your breath and easily expand your lungs. The result is better oxygen intake which can unleash your body's true potential—lower stress, greater overall health and better performance at the gym, in bed and at work.
Deep breathing also goes by such names as diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing and belly breathing. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and the lower belly rises. Of course, for many of us, that kind of deep breathing seems unnatural. Shallow, "chest breathing" is considered normal, but that limits the amount of oxygenated air going into your lungs. Deep, abdominal breathing encourages a full oxygen exchange which relaxes the body, slows your heartbeat and stabilizes your blood pressure. Here are two simple exercises that will have you feeling better in no time.
This opens up your lungs and maximizes your oxygen input to give you better mental clarity and athletic performance.
What to Do
Sit comfortably and place one hand on your chest and take a deep breath into your hand. Now place your other hand at your stomach's base and take a deep breath. Breathe in slowly through your nose and focus on getting your stomach to push your hand up while your chest remains still. Repeat for six breaths, then combine the chest and belly breaths together. Imagine you're pouring water into a glass. You want the glass to fill up starting from the bottom of your belly (the diaphragm) up to the top of your chest.
Regular day-to-day events like job pressure, traffic and financial worries often initiate the body's stress response. This exercise lowers your heart rate and eases tension so it's helpful during anxiety-inducing situations.
What to Do
Take a deep, slow inhale through your nose. Hold it in for three seconds, then, placing your top front teeth on your bottom lip, slowly let the air pass through your teeth in a long, passive exhale. This ideally should take at least twice as long as your inhale. At the bottom of the exhale, pause for a moment, take a normal breath and then repeat. Do this at least three times.