Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Abdominal Breathing for Health and Stress Relief

“When the breath is irregular, the mind is also unsteady, but when the breath is still, so is the mind.” Hathayogapradipika (14th century)
Many thousands of years ago, yogis like Hathayogapradipika mentioned above, established that there is a close link between our state of mind and the way we breathe.

The majority of people only use a third of their maximum lung capacity when they breathe in. This can be due to habit, respiratory problems, and as a result of stress and anxiety.

Every living cell in the body needs oxygen. We obtain the oxygen we require when we breathe in. If we are not using our lungs to their full potential, we are not getting the oxygen our body requires which can have a big affect on our health. Most pathogens such as bacteria and viruses thrive in a low oxygen environment causing us to become fatigued and unwell. A lack of oxygen in the body can also slow down our bodies healing abilities.

When we are in a state of relaxation, for instance when we are meditating or having a massage, our breathing becomes slower, deeper and more regular. Deep breathing (abdominal breathing not chest breathing) fully expands and contracts the lungs causing a huge increase in the amount of oxygen which is absorbed into the blood.

Abdominal breathing takes a little getting used to but really does help induce a state of relaxation and helps reduce stress. To see that you are breathing correctly (from the abdomen and not the chest), place one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest. When you breathe in, the hand which is on your abdomen should rise higher than that of the one on your chest. Once you’ve got use to the technique, you don’t need to place your hands on your abdomen and chest. Inhale through the nose, hold for a count of seven, and then exhale through the mouth. Inhalation should be twice as long as exhalation.

Try this breathing technique once or twice a day, or perhaps when you are feeling particularly stressed, anxious, or in pain. The more this technique is practised, the more natural it will become.


  1. Thank you for sharing the information. Breathing technique is a very good option to control our stress. Anxiety relief is a must for every human being to the state of relaxation.

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