Deep Breathing: What It Is, Why You Should Practise It Daily

Deep breathing is known to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and stabilise blood pressure

Shubhangi Shah
Written by: Shubhangi ShahUpdated at: Dec 24, 2021 17:58 IST
Deep Breathing: What It Is, Why You Should Practise It Daily

If you are someone into Yoga, then you are already familiar with the instant health benefits of deep breathing. If not, take a moment to do nothing: just take a deep breath in, hold, and release. Did you feel light in the head, a tad peaceful? Don’t look surprised, you were just stuck with just one of the many health benefits of deep breathing. Throughout our lifetime, we take over 600,000,000 breaths. That’s quite a lot. Breathing is something we all do throughout our lifetime. So what sets deep breathing apart from regular breathing? Most importantly, what are its health benefits? And, are there any types of deep breathing? We’ll look at all of these one by one. 

What Is Deep Breathing?

Deep breathing is also called abdominal breathing or belly breathing

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You might have come across terms such as belly breathing, abdominal breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing. These are the same as deep breathing. 

  • When you breathe deeply, your lungs get filled with oxygen-rich air, making your lower belly rise.
  • Shallow breathing, as the name suggests, is the antithesis to deep breathing. In this, the range of motion of the diaphragm is restricted. The oxygen-rich blood doesn’t reach the lowest parts of the lungs. As a result, you feel short of breath and might experience some anxiety. This is also known as costal breathing.

Other than deep and shallow breathing, there are other kinds of breathing as well, such as:

  • Eupnea: Also known as ‘quiet breathing’, this is the type of breathing you do almost all the time when you do it mindlessly while carrying out your other life functions.
  • Hyperpnea: This can be understood as the opposite of quiet breathing. Also known as forced breathing, both inhalation and exhalation are active in hyperpnea.

Benefits Of Deep Breathing

Deep breathing has several health benefits

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As now you already know what deep breathing is, along with the other kinds of breathing, let us know some of the health benefits of breathing deeply:

  • Stress: As you breathe deeply, a sense of calmness surrounds your brain. This helps you to manage stress.
  • Anxiety: Whenever you are anxious, such as right before an exam or a presentation, you might have noticed your heart rate increasing. According to Harvard Health, by deep breathing, you can bring your heart rate down. This helps you in calming down and managing anxiety.
  • Depression: Deep breathing also helps with depression, according to a leading health website.
  • Hypertension: If you suffer from issues with your blood pressure, deep breathing can help you in stabilising that, as per Harvard Health.
  • Focus: Before you start writing your exam, or giving the presentation, take a deep breath. This helps you get calm and focus better.
  • Better Sleep: Deep breathing is also believed to help you sleep better.

How To Do Deep Breathing

There are ways to practise deep breathing

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Now that you know what deep breathing is and its benefits, the next question at hand is how to do it. 

The 4-7-8 Breathing Rule

This is a simple rule that can help you practise deep breathing:

  • Sit comfortably either on a chair, or a sofa, a yoga mat or on your bed.
  • When sitting on the mat or your bed, either sit cross-legged or in any way you find comfortable.
  • Rest your palms on your knees.
  • Close your eyes and inhale while counting to four.
  • Then, hold your breath and count till seven.
  • Gently exhale while counting till eight.

Practice this any number of times you feel like it.

Tips On Deep Breathing

Now you know what deep breathing is, its benefits, and the way to do it. Here are some other tips that might help:

  • Although you can practise deep breathing anywhere, whether on your terrace or commuting on a bus or a train. But for relaxation, it is better if you pick a place that is quiet so that your focus is only on your breath, and not on chatter outside as well as inside you.
  • When the goal is to relax, being hard on yourself should be the last thing you should do.
  • Don’t be laid back either. The intent is to strike the balance, to get the whole experience of deep breathing.
  • You should start with practising it once or twice daily and build upon it.
  • You can practise deep breathing for 15 to 20 minutes daily.

So this is all you need to know about deep breathing. The thing with health is that mental health is just as important as physical. Deep breathing is highly effective in this respect since it not just provides benefits to your mental health, helping you with stress, anxiety, and depression, but with your physical health as well.

Photo Credit: Freepik

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