Practice #16: Breathe deeply to feed your body and mind. Breathing and your emotions are closely connected. This link is so profound that you can actually control how you feel through your breathing. Deep breathing relaxes you. That’s why you’re reminded to “take a deep breath” when you’re anxious.
The power of breathing and emotion
Controlled breathing makes an immediate and positive impact on your sense of happiness and well-being. Breathing exercises have even been used to help veterans emotionally heal after returning from action. Research has explored the link between respiration and emotion. A fascinating study showed that subjects could experience emotional states simply by changing their breathing to match the breathing pattern associated with joy, anger, fear or sadness.
Physical benefits of controlled breathing
Breathing moves oxygen to all parts of your body from the brain to vital organs. Yogic breathing may lower blood pressure and heart rate. The hormone cortisol, known as the stress hormone, may also be lowered through controlled breathing.
Simple breathing techniques
You can do this happiness habit anywhere. After all, you have to breathe regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. Breathe deeply three times, feeling it in your stomach. Relax your shoulders. If you feel your shoulders rising up around your ears, you’re not breathing deeply enough. Deep breaths fill the larger portions of the lungs making more oxygen available to the body.
To maximize the relaxing impact of breathing, follow this pattern: exhale through your mouth, close your mouth, then inhale through your nose counting to 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and then exhale slowly through your mouth counting to 8.
Feel how deep controlled breathing works for you. Have you already added mindful breathing to your life? Share your experiences in the comments. We’d love to hear them.