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- Feb 13 2017
Breathing Exercises for Mental Wellness
It is a commonly accepted fact that cases of anxiety and depression have been on the rise for some time now. There are various remedies to address the same, ranging from counselling sessions to medications. Breathing is one more way to tackle mental illness issues that will definitely aid you indirectly, if not directly.
Just to give an idea of the correlation between breathing and mental state, try to recall how heavy you breathe when you are angry or violent or anxious. Now compare to how slow and full you breathe when you are calm. And this is not a new age discovery, it is a well known fact since ages as evident in Vipassana or Zen practices. Now that you are convinced about the importance of correct breathing, here are a few breathing exercises for your mental wellness:
- The Zen way:
Sit with your spine erect, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to begin.
Now as you feel a little settled, start counting each exhalation.
Count till ten, and then restart from one. You’ll be amazed that you’ll often forget even before reaching ten or sometimes you’ll exceed the limit. But you’ll get better with practice.
Do this for 10 minutes initially and then you can gradually increase it to 30 minutes.
This exercise calms your mind and helps in mindfulness, thereby reducing anxiety and de-stressing your mind.
2. Deep breathing:
To start this exercise, sit comfortably but with straight back.
Now inhale as deep as you can, but remember to breath in a certain way that your diaphragm expands on inhalation and not your chest.
Take 4-5 such deep breaths and relax. Repeat for five minutes initially and increase the time after a few days of practice.
This exercise immediately lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and cures anxiety.
3. The Box breathing technique:
Sit comfortably on a chair with your back straight and feet flat on the floor.
Exhale slowly to get all the air out of your chest.
Inhale slowly and count to four and feel the air fill your lungs.
Now hold the breath for another slow count of fout.
Exhale slowly through your mouth. Again to the same count of four.
Now hold your breath for another count of four before repeating the process.
This technique too provides an immediate calm and lowers the blood pressure. Also used in cure of depression, PTSD etc.
4. The yogic way - alternate nostril breathing:
Sit with your legs crossed, straight back and eyes closed.
Press your right thumb against your right nostril and breathe through the left nostril.
Now press the left nostril with ring finger of right hand and breathe out through right nostril.
Keep the fingers in same position and breathe in through right nostril and repeat this way.
Initially, don’t do it for more than 5 minutes. Increase the duration only once comfortable with the exercise.
This exercise balances both the sides of the brain and thus harmonises the mind.
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