Breathing Techniques to Enhance Health and Wellness


 

Are you feeling overwhelmed by this ongoing pandemic? You’re not alone. This blog doesn’t list every health and wellness technique under the sun. Instead, it lists 2 proven breathing techniques to enhance health and wellness. 

I first became aware of my breath as a young child sufferer of asthma. My airways overreacted whenever the dust of tree pollen was in the air. I had allergic reactions and would lay awake at night struggling to breathe. It was then, as a child, that I found my breath. Ironically, it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized it was breathing meditation that helped me to adapt to the frequent attacks brought on by childhood asthma. 

I was officially introduced to breathing meditation at the age of about twenty. My instructor’s name was Anil and he was the father of a friend.  Anil offered to teach me how to meditate.  He taught me to use a technique known as alternate nostril breathing. I still remember that first lesson and the sensation of mindfulness. It was then that I realized I had discovered breathing meditation in my childhood and used similar techniques during asthma attacks.  

I recently participated in an online training with a local Yoga master. Troy Hadeed is the owner of Beyond Yoga and is a teacher of the art and science of conscious breathing. Troy shared that when we think about health we often think about our diets or about our level of fitness yet  we rarely consider the importance of the breath. He went on to share that humans can go three weeks without food, three days without water, and only three minutes without air. According to Troy, “ the most powerful thing that we have is our breath”.  

James Nestor is a world renowned expert and author of the New York Times Bestseller entitled, Breathe - The New Science of a Lost Art. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the important role that breathing plays in our overall health and wellness.  

In it, Nestor shares these two breathing techniques. 
 

Alternate Nostril Breathing 

This technique is said to improve lung function and lower heart rate and blood pressure. 

  • Hand positioning: Place the thumb of your right hand gently over your right nostril and the ring finger of the same hand on the left nostril. The forefinger and middle finger should rest between the eyebrows.  

  • Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril very slowly. 

  • At the top of the breath, pause briefly, holding both nostrils closed, then lift just the thumb to exhale through the right nostril. 

  • At the natural conclusion of the exhale, hold both nostrils closed for a moment, then inhale through the right nostril. 

  • Continue alternating breaths through the nostril for ten cycles.  


Coherent Breathing 

This technique is said to place the heart, lungs, and circulation into a state of coherence, where the systems of the body are working at peak efficiency. 

  • Sit up straight, relax the shoulders and belly, and exhale. 

  • Inhale belly as air fills the bottom of the lungs. 

  • Without pausing, exhale softly for 5.5 seconds, bringing the belly in as the lungs empty. Each breath should feel like a circle. 

  • Repeat at least ten times, more if possible. 

These techniques have been around for thousands of years. They take just a few minutes and can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyplace, and for absolutely no cost. 

Our physical and emotional health are closely related to the breath. When the body gets tense the breath becomes fast and shallow. When the body relaxes the breath relaxes and mental and emotional state improves. This pandemic has reminded us to value the most important things in our lives and this includes the breath. 

 

Check out our Virtual After School Activities for some yoga and breathing exercises to start your day off right!

 

“The mind is the king of the senses but the breath is the king of the mind.”             

-B.K.S Iyengar 

 

Robert Young
Middle/ High School Principal
ryoung@isps.edu.tt

 

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