5 ways to better breathing

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You might have been doing it since you were born, but you may not be doing it as effectively as you could be. Here are ways to better breathing.

“Stress and anxiety are at an all time high in today’s society,” says meditation expert and founder of Mata Yoga, Natasha Moutran, “Because of that fact people are more aware of their health and with that there is a realisation that health doesn’t just mean working with the body but the mind, emotions and soul too. Focused breathing through meditation not only keeps the mind and body functioning at their best it can also lower blood pressure, promote feelings of calm and relaxation and help us destress.” Here’s our guide to healthful breathing techniques:

1. Abdominal breathing

How: With one hand on your chest and one on your belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm inflates, rather than the chest. Repeat six to ten times per minute for ten minutes.

Why: You’ll notice immediately lower heart rate and blood pressure and with time and practice those changes will become permanent.

2. Equal Breathing

How: Known as Sama Vritti in Sanskrit, begin by inhaling through the nose for a count of four, then exhale through the nose for a count of four. Increase the number of counts when you become more confident.

Why: As well as calming the nervous system, increasing focus and reducing stress, it also promotes sleep.

3. Alternate Nostril Breathing

How: Also known as Nadi Shodhana in Sanskrit, begin in a comfortable meditative pose, holding the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left. When you reach the top of the inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Repeat on the other side.

Why: It calms and balances while uniting the left and right sides of the brain to leave you feeling refreshed and alert.

4. Progressive relaxation

How: Close the eyes and take deep, slow breaths for a count of three. With each breath concentrate on tensing and relaxing every muscle group in your body in turn. Go from the bottom and move upwards.

Why: Relieves tension by forcing you to be mindful and thoughtful.

5. Skull shining breath

How: Also known as Kapalabhati in Sanskrit, begin by taking a long, slow inhale followed by a rapid, yet powerful whoosh of air outwards from the lower belly. Once comfortable with that, up the tempo to one in and out breath every second for a total of ten breaths.

Why: It warms up the body and shakes off stale energy like an espresso shot to your lungs.

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