How Breathing Exercises Can Improve Your Health
Breathing exercises such as those found in Yoga can have a number of health benefits. Learn more to understand what you stand to gain from regular practice.
Rhythmic breathing drills are incorporated into a number of different disciplines, including pilates, yoga and martial arts, and certain religions like Buddhism and Daoism. In fact, the Chinese have spent the past few thousand years researching and studying the effects of breathing exercises, collectively lumping them into a practice called “qigong,” roughly translated as “energy training.”
Environmental stress is something that affects us all to varying degrees. If left unchecked, stress can lead to illnesses of the body and the mind. Proper practice of breathing can help you learn to cope with stress. By entering into a relaxed state through regulation of your breathing, worries can become less significant.
Along with a reduction in stress comes the clear tranquility of a mind freed from concern. The worried mind is like a bowl of muddied water–only through prolonged stillness can the “particles” of the mind settle, leaving the mind unfettered and open to learning. A meditative state achieved through the use of breathing exercises can increase Alpha brain wave activity, which causes improved learning ability and memory.
Regulation of the Involuntary Nervous System
Although we cannot directly control our digestive processes or heart rate, we can indirectly regulate these activities by actively controlling our breathing cycles. Indirectly regulating these involuntary systems can improve digestion and lower high blood pressure. One's metabolism can also improve by virtue of this process.
The reduction in stress caused by practicing breathing can bleed into an improved attitude during the day to day life. As you now possess the key to a fully functioning “pressure-release valve” via breathing exercises, you will feel more at ease during your normal routine. Ordinary stresses will not irritate you as they once would.
And of course, all of these benefits dovetail into overall improved health. Removing stress from your system, regulating heart rate and digestion, and improving metabolism will all combine to bolster your immune system. Your body's immune system operates with limited resources–its capacity to ward off illness is not unlimited. By freeing your immune system from having to cope with the aforementioned issues, it will be able to divert more of its resources to preventing illness and disease.
Whichever breathing system you choose to utilize, remember that regular practice is the key to progression. Set aside a dedicated 15 to 20 minutes a day to practice your breathing exercises and increase the time in small increments once you are ready to progress.
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