By TNT Bureau
Dec 16, 2016: You have heard this several times in your yoga class: “Take a deep breath, pause, and exhale slowly to the count of five. Repeat four times.”
This simple breathing technique works wonders on your health. The most important is that it calms your nervous system.
This technique is called controlled breathing. It reduces stress, increases alertness and boosts immune system. For centuries, yogis have practice breath control also called pranayama, to promote concentration and improve vitality.
Today, science is also providing evidence that controlled breathing has several benefits.
Studies have also found that controlled breathing helps reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and attention deficit disorder.
According to one scientific theory, controlled breathing changes the response of the body’s autonomic nervous system, which controls heart rate and digestion.
When you consciously change the way you breathe, it signals the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion. It promote feelings of calm and sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol.
When we take slow, steady breaths, our brain gets the message that everything is well, and activates the parasympathetic response. When you take shallow and rapid breaths or hold your breath, the sympathetic response gets activated.
Controlled breathing also affects immune system. Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina studies 20 healthy adults. They found that the group which did breathing exercise, had significantly lower levels of three cytokines in their saliva, which is associated with inflammation and stress.
Try these basic breathing exercises:
In coherent breathing, you breathe at a rate of five breaths per minute, which means inhaling and exhaling to the count of six.
Either sit or lying down, and place your hands on your belly. Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, and count five. Pause for some time. Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
Rock and roll breathing
When you want to relieve stress, try this breathing technique.
Sit up straight, place your hands on your belly. While you inhale, lean forward and expand your belly. When you exhale, squeeze the breath out and curl forward while leaning backward. Exhale until you have completely taken out the breath.
Breathing for energy
Stand up with elbows bent, palms facing up. Inhale and draw your elbows back behind you, palms continuing to face up. Now exhale quickly, thrusting your palms forward and turning them downward, while saying “Ha” out loud.