When we bring consciousness to our breath we can affect our body, mind, and the involuntary sympathetic nervous system responsible for the fight or flight response.
Breathing is the only bodily function that we do both consciously and unconsciously. It is both voluntary and involuntary.
Breathing brings oxygen into the body and affects almost every bodily function.
When we learn to regulate the breath the body-mind will follow.
Simple tips to practise deep conscious breathing include:
Ensure an upright posture to allow the lungs to expand and contract easily.
It is preferable to have eyes closed to block out external stimuli. (Though can be used when it is not safe or practical to close your eyes, like sitting in traffic, in a business meeting, family conflict etc.).
Then put all your attention on your breath
Breathe in with a long slow breath and pause for 1 second before you exhale with a long slow breath
Repeat 5 times
Develop a slow rhythmical pattern of deep breathing.
Repeat 5 deep, slow breaths ten times a day, or ten deep slow breaths 5 times a day. This not only has an immediate calming effect, but also practiced every day you will find it has a cumulative effect over the week and beyond.
Extending deep conscious breathing for 10–20 minutes or more significantly compounds the health benefits and can be used as a form of breath-based meditation.
Correct breathing practice is arguably one of the easiest and most effective ways to address both short- and long-term physical and emotional health.