Have you ever tried slowing down your breath? What is the fewest number of breaths that you can take in one minute? When you breathe deeply and slowly, can you feel your mind relaxing? You may be surprised to discover many benefits for your body and mind from breathing slowly. It may in fact be one of the most important things you can do.
Lower Blood Pressure
Research at the National Institutes of Health suggests that breathing slowly for a few minutes a day is enough to help people lower blood pressure naturally without pills or supplements. In fact, scientists believe that how we breathe may hold a key to how the body regulates blood pressure.
There are a number of reasons why this works. First, if you have tried slowing down your breathing, you have probably noticed that it slows down your mind (going into alpha state). People have been using breathing techniques for centuries as one of the most powerful stress relievers to calm the body and mind. Yoga, meditation, and chi gong are based around this principal.
How to do it?
1. Breathe with the abdomen. Allow your belly to expand as you inhale, both to the front and to the sides. Make a really big belly. The bigger the better. As you exhale, bring your navel toward your spine by contracting your lower abdominal muscles. This not only helps complete the exhalation, it is also an abdominal strengthening exercise.
2. Bring your attention to your breathing, keeping it long and even. Make sure that the inhalations and exhalations are of the same length. I like to breathe in to the count of eight, hold to the count of four, and breathe out to the count of eight.8,4,8
3. Breathe in and out through your nose. This is a healthy practice, as your nose is lined with tiny hairs, which act as natural filters of pollution, dust, etc.
“Breath is aligned to both body and mind and it alone is the tool which can bring them both together, illuminating both and bringing both peace and calm.” - Thich Nhat Hanh