In recent years, scientists have proven what ancient wisdom has known: deep breathing can be one of nature’s most potent medicines.
A number of studies now show that deep breathing techniques can release stress and improve a person’s mood, making them feel calmer and trading in feelings of anxiety or fear for a more focused, relaxed state of mind.
Meanwhile, other studies have also explored the effect that breathing has on pain perception, concluding that deep breathing “decisively influences” the way pain is processed and perceived.
According to Daniel Stone, who has explored the art of breathing in depth, conscious breathing can help connect the three main aspects of our being: the body, the mind, and the soul.
“The coordination of breath and physical body quietens the mind, and therefore also the emotions,” Daniel says.
What is deep breathing anyway?
Millions of years of evolution have made breathing a completely automatic function in our bodies. This means that even if we aren’t paying attention to our breath, our bodies automatically inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, allowing us to survive.
But even though breathing is automatic, we can actually control our breaths. This simply requires that we focus our attention on our breathing and consciously take control over how we inhale and exhale.
When we do this, we can start doing what scientists have recently started calling deep and slow breathing (DSB). This is a conscious act of breathing, in which people deliberately choose to focus on their own breath, slowing it down to make sure its as controlled as possible.
Although DSB is a practice in it of itself, deep breathing techniques are used as a part of other activities such as yoga, mindfulness and Tai Chi, among others.
While these practices have their own type of breath, mindful deep breathing can be promoted through several techniques, including Belly Breathing and 4-7-8 breathing.
Belly breathing is a type of DSB technique used to calm anxiety and reduce stress. Here’s how you do it:
- Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
- Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
- Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
- Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
4-7-8 is another DSB technique used to help people relax. It can also be done sitting or lying down.
- To start, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest as in the belly breathing exercise.
- Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
- Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
- Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8. Try to get all the air out of your lungs by the time you count to 8.
- Repeat 3 to 7 times or until you feel calm.
5 Benefits of Deep Breathing
1. It helps manage stress and anxiety
Deep breathing helps manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety by increasing the levels of oxygen in your blood and reducing levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) in the body. This is why many psychiatrists teach deep breathing techniques to patients who suffer from stress or anxiety.
2. It improves blood flow
Deep breathing reduces blood pressure, helps release toxins from the body and strengthens abdominal and intestinal muscles. All this improves your posture, the quality of your sleep and your overall health.
3. It increases energy levels
Higher levels of oxygen in your blood help boost energy levels. In addition, focusing on your breathing during physical activities, such as exercise, can help you become more mindful of your body, improving self-awareness.
4. It serves as a natural painkiller
Deep breathing releases hormones called endorphins throughout the body. These endorphins are feel-good, natural painkillers that help reduce the way pain is perceived by the body.
5. It helps connect body, mind, and soul
As Daniel Stone explains, being able to control our breaths is a great way to connect our body with our mind. Essentially it helps bring these two things into unison, which in turn makes impacts our overall wellbeing, making us feel lighter and happier.
According to Daniel, this is a great way to reveal our true essence to ourselves, which is to say that deep breathing helps us bring our body, mind, and souls into harmony.
Learn about the power of breath on a life-changing hike through Bolivia
Because of its amazing benefits, learning how to connect with your breath is a great way to unlock the full potential of your body and your mind.
At Sacred Earth Journeys, we invite you to join Daniel Stone and learn about the art of breathing on a transformative journey through Bolivia’s incredible Andes.
This one-of-a-kind trip will allow you to see some of the country’s most sacred sites, letting you explore the immense power of the breath as you learn to become a human channel for change.
Throughout the trip, Daniel will impart the knowledge he learned from indigenous wise people around the world. He will also provide you with the teachings and initiations needed for your own internal transformation.
Learn more about this journey, which runs from July 16 to 26, 2018.