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Do you want to change your life for the better? Breathe deeply
Do you want to change your life for the better? Breathe deeply

This should be taught in school.

Do you want to change your life for the better? Breathe deeply
Do you want to change your life for the better? Breathe deeply

How breathing can change lives

Probably, everybody from time to time comes up with the thought: "It's time to start a new life." And, as a rule, radical measures are chosen for this, such as strict diets, job changes and social circle.

But neither losing weight nor moving to another city will protect you from the body's reaction to external events, and you will very soon return to your usual life with its stresses, experiences and the feeling that “everything went wrong”.

If you do not know how to cope with negative events in your life and are under constant stress, trying to change something will give short-term results at best, but will not change anything in a global perspective.

Therefore, if you want to feel better all the time, regardless of what happens - they give you a bonus or get fired, confess their love or throw a scandal - first of all, you need to learn how to properly respond to external events, deal with stress and train mindfulness.

Correct breathing will help you with this. How you perceive the world and react to it depends not only on the brain, but also on all other systems, including the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

By controlling your breathing, you can influence the work of the heart and brain, change your emotions, well-being and perception of the world.

You don't need anything - no money, no titanic efforts, and the results will be amazing. Your life will really change - and rather quickly. Below we will look at how deep breathing changes your body, and then we will show you how to do it right.

How breathing techniques affect the body and mind

Helps to be calmer regardless of external factors

Our well-being and sensations are directly related to the work of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which transmits nerve signals from the brain to internal organs.

Its two departments - sympathetic and parasympathetic - regulate the reaction to external events. The former dominates during times of stress, the latter takes over when you are calm and relaxed. We cannot control them consciously, but we are able to influence the ANS with the help of breathing.

When you breathe frequently, your heart rate increases, the amount of oxygen supplied to the blood increases, and the tone of all skeletal muscles slightly increases. This is how the body is mobilized for an adequate response to the stimulus.

When breathing slows down, the concentration of CO2 increases in the blood. At the cellular level, this expands the walls of blood vessels and gives the hypothalamus, the medulla oblongata and the trunk a signal to weaken the muscle tone.

The logic is this: with slow breathing, the body is not in danger. We can afford it only when we are convinced of our safety. This means that it is possible to reduce the expenditure of energy for muscle tone, reducing it.

High muscle tone and the state of mobilization are very expensive for the body in terms of waste of resources, therefore, normally, the mechanism of the sympathetic nervous system is turned off, and the background is parasympathetic.

But not among the inhabitants of megalopolises. Their mechanism is broken due to stress. Therefore, you need to help yourself by creating a feeling of safety with the help of breathing.

Several experiments have shown that deep breathing sessions of 5-6 breaths per minute increase heart rate variability - an indicator that is sensitive to stress and is directly related to a person's emotions and well-being. Moreover, heart rate variability changes not only during the session itself, but also for some time after it.

Well, regular breathing exercises throughout the month change the autonomic nervous system, shifting the balance towards the parasympathetic "calm" section. As a result, people consistently feel more peaceful and satisfied, cope better with stress and control their emotions, both at work and at home.

You cannot avoid stress: without it, a fulfilling life is impossible. But you will react to them in a very different way.

Change the way the brain works towards awareness

Depending on the state - sleep, wakefulness, excitement, meditation - different types of "waves" prevail in the brain. These are electrical discharges with different frequencies that neurons produce in response to stimuli.

When you are awake, beta waves (13 to 100 Hz) predominate, when you relax and meditate, alpha waves (8–12, 9 Hz). Deep diaphragmatic breathing increases the alpha activity of the brain, immersing a person in a meditative state, and using simple practices like counting breathing teaches the brain to focus on what is happening now.


Ksenia Shatskaya

The ability to breathe in a certain way at the expense of trains the ability of the brain to focus in the moment "here and now", which increases stress resistance and productivity of the part of the brain that is responsible for willpower, intelligence, emotional intelligence and social characteristics of the person.

After deep breathing sessions, the level of cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases, people feel less anxious, angry and embarrassed, it becomes easier for them to concentrate on tasks and cope with everyday problems.

What's more, regular breathing exercises increase beta activity in the left frontal, midline, and occipital regions of the brain, which are associated with increased cognitive performance - attention, memory, and executive function. So it's safe to say that deep breathing will make you smarter.

Breathing practices tune the central nervous system so that you are less stressed, more mindful, energized and focused.

How to prepare for breathing practice

Determine if you can study

Deep breathing is safe for almost anyone, but there are conditions in which it can be harmful. So, Ksenia Shatskaya does not advise trying breathing practices with organic lesions of the tissues of the nervous system and acute inflammatory diseases of the pulmonary system.

It is also not recommended to use deep breathing for panic attacks. In this state, people are advised to breathe in and out slowly but shallowly to reduce the risk of hyperventilating the lungs.

Choose the right time

You can do breathing practices whenever you feel the need to calm down. If you want to build a habit and incorporate breathing exercises into your daily routine, do them after waking up and before bed.

Firstly, this way you will do the exercises on an empty stomach, and this is a necessary condition for comfortable practice. Second, it will provide a number of additional benefits.

Ksenia Shatskaya claims that by doing the practice in the morning, you will reduce the level of cortisol in the body, and this will improve your mood for the whole day. Breathing in the evenings will help you to relax, ensure you fall asleep quickly and sleep well.

Take a suitable position

Before starting the practice, you need to take a comfortable position so that the uncomfortable position does not interfere with your concentration. You can breathe while lying on your back, sitting or standing. The main thing is that the back is straight and the shoulders are straightened. This will allow you to take full, deep breaths.

If you choose a seated position, you can put something under your lower back to relieve muscle tension and not be distracted by pain in the process.

What breathing technique to try

Ksenia Shatskaya spoke about breathing practices that are widely used in yoga and do not require a long mastering. Try everything and choose the right one or alternate between them. For a start, 5-15 minutes a day is enough. Over time, you can increase the practice time to 30 minutes.

Alternating breathing with different nostrils (Nadi Shodhana)

Pinch your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand and inhale deeply through your right. Then remove your finger from the left nostril, pinch the right one with your thumb and exhale completely.

Without changing anything, inhale through the left nostril, then release your thumb, hold the left with your ring finger and exhale through the right. Continue in this manner, changing the nostrils before exhaling.

Pranayama square

Take a deep breath and count to yourself, for example, to four. Then hold your breath for the same number of counts, exhale and hold your breath again. Each interval - inhale, hold, exhale, and hold - should take the same number of counts.

Pranayama triangle

This technique is similar to the previous one. The only difference is that there is no delay after exhalation. You inhale, hold your breath, and exhale for the same number of counts.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing

This technique is not yoga - it has been used in some scientific work on the effects of breathing on the nervous system and has proven to be effective in combating stress.

Place your palm on your body in the stomach area. This is necessary in order to feel the movement of the abdomen and track whether it rises during inhalation or not. Take a deep breath and feel your belly swell.

Count to yourself: inhalation should take at least five counts (seconds). Then exhale completely, during which the abdomen deflates. When you are sure that full inhalation and exhalation take at least 10 seconds, you can stop counting.

Continue breathing in this way, concentrating on the movement of air. When you feel how you need to inflate your stomach, you can remove your hand from it and freely stretch it along the body.

How long to practice to notice the effect

In fact, the effect will come immediately after you try: the tension and stress will pass, the head will be fresher, and the mood will be excellent.

Scientific work also confirms the quick effect of breathing practices. So, just one day of breathing exercises alleviates the emotional fatigue and depersonalization caused by burnout at work, and a week of intensive program reduces depression and anxiety in people with chronic low back pain.

Just 5 minutes of breathing practice significantly reduces anxiety in pregnant women before childbirth, and regular exercise helps to cope with the manifestations of severe emotional disorders.