We’re living in an age of mindfulness. We’re encouraged to do most things mindfully. Shopping mindfully can help us spend less and make more environmentally conscious choices. Eating mindfully might mean that we are less likely to overindulge and more likely to savor what we put into our mouths. But what about breathing mindfully? For most of us, unless we’re feeling anxious or pushing our bodies hard, breathing isn’t something we give much thought to. It’s a natural, automatic process that we don’t need to be in control of. So, what does it mean to be mindful of your breathing, and why is it important?
What is Mindful Breathing?
Mindful breathing follows the same basic principle as mindful shopping, eating, etc. In simple terms, it’s being more aware of your breathing. Stop and feel your breath instead of simply letting it happen.
If you’ve ever practiced yoga, you’ve probably spent time focusing on your breath, feeling it move into different body areas, or actively trying to change it. Breathing more mindfully takes these practices and exercises off the mat and into day-to-day life.
Why is Mindful Breathing Important?
Breathing mindfully can have many different benefits to your health and wellbeing.
Breathing More Mindfully is Great for Your Mental Health
Breathing mindfully means stopping and focusing on your breath and nothing else. It gives you time to take control of something, calm any racing thoughts, or ease any stress. It’s a chance to step back and ground yourself when perhaps everything feels out of control. Being mindful of your breathing, even for a short time, can reduce stress and anxiety, ease symptoms of depression, and give you a feeling of control.
Mindful Breathing Can Be Effective Pain Relief
Have you ever been told to breathe through the pain? Well, it can work, at least to some extent. Breathing deeply, feeling your breath move through your body, and emptying your mind can boost circulation and oxygenation to painful areas. Still, it can also help you take control over your pain instead of letting the worry, stress, and panic that it brings consume you.
It Can Lower Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
More mindful breathing typically means slower, longer breathes and emptying and filling your lungs more fully. Doing this for just a few minutes a day can slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure.
Paying More Attention to Your Breathing Could Improve Your Love Life
A common side effect of poor breathing practices and stress and anxiety is snoring, which can dampen anyone’s love life. Breathing mindfully during the day reduces stress, and being mindful of your breathing as you settle down to sleep helps you avoid mouth breathing and gives your partner a more peaceful night’s sleep. Being mindful of your breathing can have other bedroom benefits, too. It can even help with ED, which is more common in mouth breathers.
Being Able to Breathe Mindfully Can Improve Cardio Performance
One of the hardest parts of cardio exercise is managing your breath. Go too hard, get out of breath too soon, and you’re sure to pull up short of your best. Learn to listen to and feel your breathing the rest of the time, and pacing yourself when you push your heart rate up can become much easier.
Practicing yoga can be a great way to get into good, mindful habits. But so can simply pay attention to your body and thought processes. Be mindful of how you feel and get into the habit of stopping and feeling your breath if anything feels off.
Featured Image by Alfonso Cerezo from Pixabay