5 Key Benefits of Deep Breathing
Self-Care

5 Key Benefits of Deep Breathing

Breathing is one of the most important body functions and is such a normal part of everyday life it’s probably something you don’t think about often. However, the way you breathe can have an important impact on your health and happiness on many levels.

“Deep breathing is a big part of your Well-being, because with that deep breath, there is activation on a cellular level. In other words, it is the current that carries the vitality to the extremities of the cells. And so, the more you are breathing, the more you are thriving. Some say it is the way the Spirit moves. We would say it is the way life moves most efficiently through your physical body. And, fortunately, it is something that is not left to your conscious mind.” – Abraham-Hicks

Like many of us, you may have developed a habit of shallow breathing, and unknowingly hold your breath for short periods when under stress. Both of these unconscious practices can raise carbon dioxide levels in your blood, which over the long term can be harmful to the body.

The good news is that it’s easy to retrain yourself to breathe more effectively most of the time and there’s no equipment needed — you’ve got all you need with you all the time.

Deep breathing has been long considered essential for maintaining chi, the life-force energy of Eastern cultural traditions. Only more recently, however, have others begun to embrace the wisdom of taking deep breaths.

“If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly.” – Andrew Weil

Here are the 5 Key Benefits of Deep Breathing:

1. Improves Physical Health

  • Releases toxins. Your body is designed to release 70% of its toxins through breathing.
  • Massages your organs. The movements of the diaphragm during the deep breathing exercise massages the stomach, small intestine, liver and pancreas.
  • Strengthens the immune system. The oxygen that travels through your bloodstream enriches your body to metabolize nutrients and vitamins.
  • Improves quality of the blood. Deep breathing removes all the carbon-dioxide and increases oxygen in the blood which increases blood quality.
  • Increases digestion. The digestive organs, such as the stomach, operates more efficiently when they receive more oxygen.
  • Strengthens the lungs. As you breathe deeply the lungs become healthy and powerful, a good insurance against respiratory problems.
  • Strengthens the heart. Efficient lungs means more oxygen so the heart doesn’t have to work as hard to deliver oxygen to the tissues.
  • Assists in weight control. If you are overweight, the extra oxygen burns up the excess fat more efficiently. If you are underweight, the extra oxygen feeds the starving tissues and glands.
  • Boosts Energy Levels and Improves Stamina. The body functions optimally when it is getting enough oxygen, which in turn provides more energy.
  • Improves Cellular Regeneration. Breathing deeply allows the circulatory system to work at its best, which stimulates cells to repair themselves.

2. Relieves Stress & Tension

No one can avoid all stress, but when stress overwhelms your nervous system your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight.” While the stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly, it wears your body down when constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life.

You can counteract stress with deep breathing to activate the relaxation response. The relaxation response puts the brakes on stress and brings your body and mind back into a state of balance. When the relaxation response is activated:

  • Your heart rate slows down
  • Breathing becomes slower and deeper
  • Blood pressure drops or stabilizes
  • Your muscles relax
  • Blood flow to the brain increases

3. Reduces Pain

Chronic oxygen deprivation from poor breathing is a frequent contributor to aches and pains. When this happens our body literally screams out for more oxygen by sending pain signals.

In many cases, deep, slow breathing is as good as some medicines at relieving pain. It alters your psychological state, causing a calming effect and making a painful moment diminish in intensity, reducing both stress and levels of pain.

Researchers know that the brain makes its own morphine-like pain relievers, called endorphins and enkephalins. These hormones are associated with a happy, positive feeling and can help relay “stop pain” messages throughout your body.

During deep breathing, your blood is oxygenated, which triggers the release of endorphins, while also decreasing the release of stress hormones and slowing down your heart rate.

Deep breathing has been known to work well for:

  • Arthritis. Deep, controlled breathing can bring welcome relief from arthritic pain. It stimulates blood flow and can help bring more oxygen to your muscles and joints.
  • Headaches. Deep breathing can be used to help to reduce stress and minimize headache pain brought on by a number of things including eye strain, sensitivity to light and sound, and conditions like sinusitis. Deep breathing exercises can be used to not only manage headache pain, but also as an aid to prevent migraines.
  • Labor Pain. Women have practiced breathing techniques for centuries in order to help minimize labor pains. Both the Lamaze method and the Bradley method increase the amount of oxygen received and decreases pain and tension throughout the labor.

4. Enhances Emotional Well-Being

There is plenty of evidence to show that breathing is powerfully connected to our emotions. Oxygenation of the brain reduces excessive stress levels and increases pleasure-inducing neurochemicals. This elevates moods and helps to clear uneasy feelings out of your body.

A research study by Pierre Phillipot showed that we can change how we feel using our breath!

Since it is often difficult to change your emotions using thoughts alone – try talking yourself out of intense anxiety or anger – learning to use the breath becomes a very powerful tool. Instead of talking your way out of your feelings, you can learn to “breathe” your way through them.

When you’re more relaxed, you have access to better feeling thoughts, which not only deactivates any negative thoughts, but also brings mind, body, and spirit into natural balance.

5. Opens Spiritual Connection

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “Breath is the movement of Spirit in the body.”

Many of the world’s major spiritual traditions have employed breathing techniques to deepen spiritual experiences. Ancient Hawaiian spiritual leaders believed that, with your breath, you brought in positive energy and expelled negative energy. It was such a large part of their lives that the Hawaiian word for breath, “Ha”, begins the island’s name.

Practicing conscious deep breathing brings:

  • A stronger sense of inner strength
  • A feeling of being closer to the source of all life
  • A deeper sense of peace
  • Improved self-esteem & self-worth
  • Stronger intuition or “inner knowing”
  • A deeper sense of guidance from a higher power
  • Access to clarity and creativity

All the energy that is brought into the lungs with each long, nutritious breath is then dispersed throughout the body, moving through subtle energy channels. It’s like taking an inner bath, bathing your body in energy, light and oxygen.

As you breathe more fully, you release resistance (tension and negative emotions) and allow your spiritual nature to expand and permeate your body. This causes your vibration to rise and connects you with Source.

“Many assume that the process of breathing is only about your physical nature, but that is not the case. The process of breathing is much more than an essential function of your physical body. Indeed, it is the flowing of Spirit to you, and through you. That is the reason that when the focusing of your physical body ceases, your breathing ceases, also.” – Abraham-Hicks

In conclusion:

Breath is life. Taking time to consciously breathe deeply for at least 15 minutes every day has numerous benefits and ultimately results in a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.

Do you practice deep breathing? I’d love to hear from you. Share your comment below.