Breathing Techniques & Mindfulness Tips
Timeless Wisdom for a Healthy Body
By Madalina Hubert
Using proper breathing techniques is important for healing our bodies and is connected with both our physical and mental health.
The most basic function of breathing is to oxygenate the blood, which provides nutrients to the body’s structures and systems. Positive effects of good breathing techniques include:
- reducing stress and anxiety
- sharpening concentration
- strengthening emotional health
- stimulating lung function
- relieving muscle tension
- improving sleep quality
- helping with physical fitness
Breathing properly can also activate the body’s natural relaxation response, which is the body’s mechanism that induces physiological relaxation following a stressful situation.
Deep Breathing Techniques for Better Health
There are several breathing techniques, but the most basic one is deep abdominal breathing, in which the body breathes through the diaphragm, an important muscle in the abdomen. This helps the body absorb more oxygen, which is more effective than the more shallow breathing through the chest.
You can start practicing this deep breathing technique today at home as follows:
Sit down or lie down, but make sure to keep a straight back and relaxed shoulders. Place on hand on the belly and the other on the chest so that you can feel the breathing movement. Take a deep inhale, hold your breath for a few seconds and then exhale slowly, letting out all the air. You should feel the belly rise and fall with each breath, but the chest should remain still. In this way, you are taking deep breaths from the diaphragm.
You can start with as little as a few minutes and then gradually increase the practice time until abdominal breathing becomes natural to you.
Breathing Techniques and Mindfulness
According to TCM, there is a type of vital energy (qi) that flows through the human body, nature and the universe. It plays an important role in maintaining balance and harmony in oneself and the environment. The smooth flow of qi is important, and any disruption of this energy circulation in the body usually leads to mental and physical ailments.
That is why using proper breathing techniques plays a part in regulating qi and maintaining health and energy. Other factors include good eating and sleeping habits, as well as keeping a stable emotional state.
Meditation and gentle exercises such as tai qi (tai chi) and other forms of qigong are especially helpful in activating the body’s natural relaxation response and encouraging healthy breathing. One of the reasons they are so effective is that they drive away stressful and negative thoughts, and help the mind and body achieve a state of oneness and relaxation, thus encouraging the healthy flow of life energy.
TCM emphasizes staying mindful of your body’s needs. It is no wonder that these are becoming increasingly popular in the West.
Among the many traditional Chinese qigong practices, Falun Dafa stands out for its ability to integrate mind improvement (living according to truthfulness, compassion, tolerance) with gentle exercises and meditation. Many people have experienced remarkable improvements in their health by following these principles, which are anchored in thousands of years of traditional wisdom.
For more healthy tips from TCM, read out “5 Tips to Stay Healthy in Late Summer” article.
So whether you use exercises, meditation and/or breathing techniques, remember to take care of yourself and nurture your mind and body. After all, taking care of your health is in your own hands!
Madalina Hubert is a Toronto-based writer specializing in art, culture, travel, and culinary explorations.