Change Your Breathing, Change Your Life!

A'yanah Anu Bey

Posted on January 26 2016

Change Your Breathing, Change Your Life!

Focusing on your own breathing can have a significant impact on your well-being and stress levels, and can even create physiological changes like lowering your blood pressure. For thousands of years, the yogic practice of pranayama (Sanskrit for "extension of the life-force") has been used as a method geared towards reducing stress and healing the body and mind through targeted breathing exercises.

Here are 9 Benefits of Deep Breathing!

Stimulate brain growth! When controlled breathing is used during meditation, it can actually increase the size of the brain. Meditation that involves focusing one’s attention on the breath has the capacity to increase cortical thickness, according to a 2005 Harvard Study.

Improve heart rate variability! Low heart rate variability (the interval of time between heartbeats) has been associated with a greater risk of heart attacks. A 2012 study found that non-yogic deep breathing practices can improve heart rate variability in healthy test subjects.

Lower stress levels! If your breathing is shallow, your body is probably in ‘fight-or-flight’ mode reacting to stress, says Ardito. Taking a minute or two to sit quietly and focus on your breathing helps your body achieve a state of calm, shifting from functioning out of the sympathetic nervous system (characterized by drive, flight and ambition) to the parasympathetic nervous system, which puts the body in a state of ‘relax and receive.”

Alleviate anxiety & negative emotions! Many of us have felt short of breath during times of panic or stress. This is the body's natural reaction to a perceived threat, says Ardito. Focusing on breathing can help to alleviate anxiety, symptoms of depression, and other negative emotions. Last year, Australian researchers found that deep breathing 30 minutes before a performance effectively reduced musicians performance anxiety.

Reduce testing anxiety! A 2007 study published in journal Teaching and Learning in Medicine found that students who practiced deep-breathing meditation before an exam reported perceiving less anxiety, self-doubt and concentration loss than the students who did not practice deep breathing.

Lower blood pressure! Taking slow, deep breaths for just a few minutes a day could help to lower your blood pressure, according to Dr. David Anderson of National Institutes of Health. While researchers have observed that slow, deep breaths can help to relax and temporarily dilate blood vessels, they don't yet know precisely why deep breathing has the capacity to cause a lasting drop in blood pressure, Anderson tells NBC News.

Balance the left & right hemispheres of the brian! Breathing in through your left nostril will access the right “feeling” hemisphere of your brain, and breathing in through your right nostril, will access the left “thinking” hemisphere of your brain.  Consciously alternating your breath between either nostril will allow you to activate and access your whole brain.

Cleanses the lungs! A daily five minute practice morning and night of alternate nostril breathing is great way to remove stale air and impurities from the bottom of your lungs. Did you know that 70% of our body’s waste products are eliminated via our lungs.

Improves Sleep! If you can’t sleep at night lay on your right hand side, gently close your right nostril with your right thumb and breath through your left nostril. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system which will calm you down and slow your heart rate.  Left nostril breathing is cooling, calming and nourishing for your whole being.

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